TALE OF THE TAPE

Bulldogs Look To Bounce Back: #11 Butler At Fordham

Butler
Fordham
Rhode Island v Butler
Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival
Coaching
Winner Butler’s 12-game home win streak came to an end on Wednesday in a surprise loss to Charlotte. Brad Stevens is a master game-planner, and he should have a better idea of how to manage without his starting center now that his team has played a game without him.
In the midst of a five-game losing streak and just 2-8 in the Atlantic 10, Tom Pecora has work to do just to get Fordham to the conference tournament (12 of 16 teams qualify).
Offense
Winner Rotnei Clarke has great range and a quick release on his shot. The 6-foot Arkansas transfer leads Butler with 16.9 points per game while shooting 43 percent from deep. The Bulldogs protect the ball and hit the offensive glass hard.
Senior Chris Gaston, who has not played since Jan. 16 because of an injured knee, may return on Saturday. That would be a huge boost for an offense that has really struggled without him.
Defense
Winner Butler plays very physical defense, though they’ll miss center Andrew Smith, who will miss his second straight game on Saturday because of an abdominal injury.
Xavier scored 79 and shot 47 percent against Fordham on Wednesday. The Rams’ previous three opponents scored 81, 90, and 89. Gaston should help on the boards and provide a defensive presence on the interior.
Bench Depth
Smith is Butler’s second leading scorer and rebounder. Erik Fromm started in his place on Wednesday. Point guard Alex Barlow also came off the bench, replaced by Kellen Dunham.
Winner Gaston’s return would obviously help Fordham’s depth as well. They will need a group effort to pull off the upset.

The Winner Is

Rhode Island v Butler
Winner Butler
3 out of 4

Butler hasn’t lost two in a row since January of last year. They may not rack up a huge lead in this one, but they shouldn’t have too much of an issue with a struggling Rams squad.

-Andrew Kahn, College Basketball Contributor

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