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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. –
In a battle of two of the top contenders for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Butler's Rotnei Clarke outdueled Temple's Khalif Wyatt
to lead the #9/9 Bulldogs to a thrilling 83-71 win over the visiting Owls Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler improves to 17-3, 4-1 in A10 play while Temple falls to 13-6 and 2-3 in the conference.
Clarke, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games due to a severely sprained neck, led all scorers with 24 points while also dishing a game-high nine assists. Wyatt continued his hot play of late, topping the Owls with 22 points, six assists and four steals.
Wyatt, who scored 16 of his points in the opening stanza, connected on seven-of-15 from the floor and four-of-six from beyond the arc. Clark was not as accurate from the floor (4-14, 3-10), but was deadly from the line, making 13-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Temple led throughout most of the first half in large part to the play of Wyatt. The 6-4 guard was red-hot, making all four of his treys while dishing three of his four assists to open three-point shooters.
The Owls built its largest lead, 21-14, following a Wyatt three with 11:09 left in the half. Then the Bulldogs started to storm back. Kellen Dunham (17 points), who came off the bench to hit five treys (6 attempts), drained two straight and Clark knocked down a jumper to give Butler its first lead of the game, 22-21.
Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, who has been straddled with a bruised left knee, slammed home a breakaway dunk and Wyatt buried a trey to make it 26-22 in Temple's favor.
Butler then ran off 12 straight points with another Dunham trey ending the stretch to make it 34-26. Temple, however, closed out the half by scoring eight of the final 11 points to trail only by three, 37-34, at the break.
The Bulldogs stormed out of the gate in the second half, scoring the first seven points to build a double-digit lead (44-34) before the Owls called timeout.
The lead would swell to 13 points, 51-38, following two free throws by Kameron Woods. After the teams went back and forth, a Scootie Randall three ignited a 13-2 Temple run that tied the game at 56 with 8:12 remaining,
Hollis-Jefferson, who scored nine of his 11 points in the final 20 minutes, missed a jumper in the lane that would have given the Owls lead. Butler then exploded, scoring 16 of the next 20 points – including two huge Dunham treys – to take a commanding 72-60 lead with 3:32 to play.
The Owls tried valiantly to claw their way back into the contest, cutting the deficit to six (77-71) on a Quenton DeCosey lay-up with 37 second remaining. Clark then iced it with six straight free throws.
Khyle Marshall, who was a huge offensive factor as well for BU in the second half, made nine-of-11 shots for 19 points.
Scootie Randall (13 points) and Anthony Lee (12 pts) joined Wyatt and Hollis-Jefferson in double-figures. T.J. DiLeo, who started the game and was assigned to shutdown Clark, had to leave the contest after just three minutes with an apparent high ankle sprain. His status is uncertain for the Richmond game.
Temple returns to The Liacouras Center for Wednesday's A-10 tilt against the Richmond Spiders. The game set for 7:00 p.m. can be seen on OwlAccess and heard on 1210 AM WPHT. Temple will honor one of its former greats, Hal Lear during the contest, as it will retire his uniform number (#6) during a halftime ceremony.