New Orleans-Butler Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 04, 2013
Fifth-year senior guard Rotnei Clarke was off target in the last game, but Butler showed it has plenty of talent down low. That doesn't bode well for an undersized New Orleans squad. Playing its final game before its Atlantic 10 debut, the 17th-ranked Bulldogs will go for a ninth consecutive victory Saturday in the first matchup between these teams. Clarke, an Arkansas transfer, entered Wednesday's game against Penn tied for the Division I lead with 4.17 3-pointers made per game, but went 1 for 9 from long range and finished with a season-low six points. The Bulldogs (11-2) matched a season-low with four 3s, but they won 70-57 behind a career-best 24 points and six rebounds from forward Roosevelt Jones and 14 and five from forward Khyle Marshall. Andrew Smith, a 6-foot-11 center, chipped in with nine points and five rebounds while 6-9 reserve forward Kameron Woods grabbed a team-high 10 boards as Butler held a 36-21 edge on the glass. The Bulldogs lead the A-10 in rebounding margin at 8.5 per game. "We won the game because of power, the interior guys, Roosevelt (Jones) and Khyle (Marshall) in particular and certainly Andrew (Smith) as well," coach Brad Stevens told the school's official website. "Our guards didn't produce the way they normally do, but I thought our guys three through five played pretty well and carried us tonight." Before opening league play on Wednesday at St. Joseph's, the Bulldogs will try to add to the Privateers' recent woes with a seventh consecutive win at Hinkle Fieldhouse. New Orleans (3-9), making its first trip to Indianapolis since the 1993 NCAA tournament, has dropped its five road games by an average of 23.6 points following Thursday's 97-46 loss to Mississippi State. The Privateers, with no regulars taller than 6-7, shot 33.3 percent, committed 23 turnovers and were outrebounded 40-27. Six-foot-five forward Eddie Denard had a career-best nine, but New Orleans is being outrebounded by 7.5 per contest - one of the worst differentials in Division I. Team leading scorer Lovell Cook, a senior forward, had season lows with seven points and one rebound. "This was not a game that served as a good picture of who we are as program," coach Mark Slessinger told the team's official website following New Orleans' 11th consecutive road loss. The Privateers, who are independent and will join the Southland Conference for the 2013-14 season, defeated then-No. 21 North Carolina State 65-63 in their last game against a ranked opponent on Nov. 18, 2007. Butler is off to its best start since opening 19-1 in 2008-09.
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