By Will Willems
Welcome back Rotnei Clarke.
The Butler Bulldogs guard, who missed three games with a severely sprained neck, led the No. 9 Bulldogs to an 83-71 victory over Temple Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“First of all it was just great and heartwarming to have him back on the court knowing what he went through,” Butler head coach Brad Stevens said. “I know he appreciated that as well. I thought our guys played really hard and well against a good team.”
While the Bulldogs went 2-1 in his absence (and played most of a fourth game without him), they missed his shooting and passing ability, averaging less than 60 points in game without him.
Clarke had a game-high 24 points Saturday, along with nine assists.
“It felt really good to be out there,” Clarke said. “When something like that happens, it puts things in perspective. I just wanted to get back out there with these guys.”
Butler built a 13-point lead midway through the second half, but Temple used an 18-5 run to tie the score at 56 with 7:47.
The Bulldogs responded. Clarke assisted on a dunk by Khyle Marshall, then had assists on back-to-back 3-pointers by Kellen Dunham to push the lead to 64-58 with 6:47 to go.
He later got his ninth-and-final assist on a lay-up by Roosevelt Jones to bring the lead to 10 and cap a 12-2 run.
For more of this story, read Tuesday's Lebanon Reporter.