Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Men's College Basketball [Print without images]

Saturday, January 12, 2013
Rotnei Clarke leaves on stretcher

ESPN.com news services

DAYTON, Ohio -- No. 14 Butler leading scorer Rotnei Clarke suffered a sprained neck when he hit a padded backboard stand with his left shoulder during Saturday's 79-73 victory against Dayton.

He was taken off the court on a stretcher.

He was treated and released at a hospital and no fracture was found, school officials told ESPN.

Butler's trainer said Clarke had a "pretty significant" neck sprain "but no spinal cord injury," according to the Indianapolis Star.

Clarke, who leads the Bulldogs with 17 points per game, had a steal and was fouled hard by Dayton's Matt Derenbecker as he went up for a shot with 8:13 left in the first half Saturday. Clarke went shoulder-first into the padded backboard stand and lay on his back for several minutes. He moved his arms and legs as he was examined.

His wide-eyed Butler teammates gathered around him.

"At that point, it's not about basketball anymore," senior center Andrew Smith said.

At first, Clarke lost sensation in his arms and legs.

"He said he couldn't feel anything," Roosevelt Jones said.

Clarke gave a thumbs-up sign when he was strapped onto the backboard and left on a stretcher. He's been a key to Butler's 10-game winning streak and will travel back with the team.

The officials called an intentional foul on Derenbecker.

Coach Brad Stevens went to the hospital as soon as the game ended to see Clarke. Derenbecker shook his hand on the court and asked him to relay a message.

"I said, 'Coach, please tell Rotnei it was not on purpose.' And he said, 'Matt, I know it wasn't on purpose. Don't worry,'" Derenbecker said. "It felt good to know that a coach of his caliber was able to realize that it wasn't a dirty play."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.