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Clarke returns, leads Butler to impressive victory

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.

Bulldogs move into first place in Atlantic 10

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 1:43 am

In front of a sellout Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd of 10,000, Butler picked up its fourth conference victory with a convincing 83-71 win over Temple on Saturday.

With the win, the Bulldogs moved into first place in the Atlantic 10 standings. Senior guard Rotnei Clarke led Butler with 24 points and dished out a career-high nine assists.

Clarke, playing in his first game since being injured on Jan. 12, made a career-high 13 free throws on the night, including six within the final 30 seconds to help Butler seal the win.

"It felt really good to be back," Clarke said in a release. "When something like that happens, it puts a lot of things in perspective. I just wanted to get back out there with these guys and coming away with a win was even better."

Temple's leading scorer Khalif Wyatt netted 16 of Temple's first 26 points to give the Owls (13-6, 2-3 A-10) a 26-22 lead with 6:32 remaining in the first half. Wyatt finished with 22 points and six assists, both team highs.

The Bulldogs (17-3, 4-1 A-10) countered with four straight points from sophomore forward Kameron Woods to tie the game before Clarke hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to give Butler a 29-26 lead. The Bulldogs never trailed again.

Woods finished with seven points five rebounds. He was one of five Bulldogs to haul down four or more boards.

Enjoying a 13-point lead with 13:50 remaining in the game, Butler was stunned by an 18-5 Temple run that resulted in the Owls knotting the game at 56-56.

Undeterred, the Bulldogs went on a run of their own, outscoring Temple 16-4 in the next four minutes and forty seconds to take a 72-56 lead.

Butler shot 52 percent (26-50) from the field and 79% from the charity stripe (23-29).

Junior forward Khyle Marshall added 19 points and five rebounds, while freshman guard Kellen Dunham tied career-highs for field goals made (6) and 3-pointers made (5), finishing with 17 points and four rebounds.

The Bulldogs were in action for the first time since suffering their only conference loss, a narrow 54-53 setback at La Salle on Wednesday.

"We have no time to mope during a game or after a game in this league," Butler head coach Brad Stevens said. "It's a monster every night."

Butler has won 14 of its last 15 contests and will travel to Saint Louis on Thursday at 9 p.m.