Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - The 11th-ranked Butler Bulldogs seek a quick
turnaround after suffering their first home loss of the season, as they take
on the Fordham Rams on Saturday in an Atlantic 10 Conference matchup at Rose
Brad Stevens' Bulldogs have acclimated to their new conference quite well, as
the team has asserted itself as one of the A-10 elite with an impressive 20-5
record. However, Butler is now sitting in third place in the league standings
following Wednesday's 71-67 loss to Charlotte at the Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Tom Pecora's Rams have struggle both in and out of conference this season and
are currently saddled with a 6-19 overall record. Wins have been even harder
to come by in-conference, with Fordham buried in the standings, currently one
game out of the conference cellar at 2-8. To make matters worse, Fordham comes
into this contest with an ugly five-game losing streak in tow, including
Wednesday's 79-66 setback at Xavier.
Butler won the only previous meeting between these two teams, a 94-80 victory
in the first round of the 1959 NIT.
Butler fell victim to an efficient offensive performance by the 49ers this
week, as Charlotte converted 54.2 percent from the floor, compared to a mere
39 percent effort from the hometown Bulldogs. Despite the setback and less
than efficient shooting, four Bulldogs finished in double figures, led by
Rotnei Clarke's 18 points. Roosevelt Jones poured in 17, while Erik Fromm and
Kellen Dunham finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Butler was without starting center Andrew Smith (11.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) against
Charlotte, but the big man could return in this game. Still, Butler usually
goes as Clarke goes. The Arkansas-transfer has been a dynamic leader in his
first stint with the team, leading Butler in the scoring column at 17.0 ppg.
Jones (10.6 ppg), Dunham (10.6 ppg) and Khyle Marshall (10.0 ppg) round out
the team's top scoring threats.
The Rams have struggled this season primarily because they have been porous at
the defensive end. Fordham suffers from an ugly -11.4 scoring margin by
allowing foes to net an alarming 76.7 ppg. Only eight teams at the Division I
level are allowing more points. Branden Frazier and Chris Gaston are the only
currently double-digit performers, averaging 15.0 and 14.0 ppg, respectively.
Gaston (8.1 rpg) has missed more than half the season, including the loss at
Xavier, but he is expected to play against Butler and is a welcome site to the
frontcourt. Still, depth behind those two is scarce. Mandell Thomas and Bryan
Smith are the next closest scorers at 8.8 and 8.1 ppg, respectively.
Just a freshman, Thomas has made a solid impact with the team, including a
career-high 23 points in the loss to Xavier. Frazier added 11 points, while
Ryan Canty finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Sports Network