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No. 14 Butler gets 28 from Clarke, wins their A-10 opener

Jan 9, 2013, 9:27 PM EST

Ronald Roberts, Jr., Rotnei Clarke AP

Rotnei Clarke scored 15 of his 28 points in the second half to lead No. 14 Butler to a 72-66 win at St. Joseph’s in their first league game as a member of the Atlantic 10.

Clarke hit six threes while chipping in with six boards and four assists. Center Andrew Smith added 24 points and 10 boards, six on the offensive end, as the Bulldogs managed to pull-away late in the second half in one of the more entertaining games that we are going to see this season.

Both teams shot the ball well from three. Both teams got up and down the floor. Both teams struggled with the concept of defense. They traded runs. The difference? Butler was able to execute down the stretch, while St. Joe’s lost yet another close game.

That was something St. Joe’s struggled with mightily last season, and an issue they haven’t exactly fixed early on this season. Call it what you want — poor execution, bad late-game coaching, questionable decision-making — but more than anything, it’s a consistent problem that needs to be addressed.

The point that needs to be taken out of this game, however, is that Butler is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the A-10.

What better way to introduce yourself to the conference than to go into the gym of the team picked to win the conference and leave with a victory?