Previewing Butler

North Carolina cruised into the Maui Invitational semifinals with a rout of Mississippi State. Butler advanced in spectacular, buzzer-beating fashion over Marquette. The two teams meet on Tuesday at the Lahaina Civic Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST on ESPN.

North Carolina (4-0) vs. Butler (2-1)
Lahaina, Hawaii -- Lahaina Civic Center (2,400)
Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. EST


"It was just kind of a scramble play. I was dribbling around, and I almost thought about flipping it to Roosevelt Jones, who was going down the lane line, just to have him drive and make a play. I ended up keeping it, and got through and got around a couple of guys, and just let it up there, and luckily it went in." -- Senior guard Rotnei Clarke on his buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Marquette


Season to Date: Butler enters Tuesday's second round of the Maui Invitational with a 2-1 record. The Bulldogs, newly-minted Atlantic 10 conference members, topped Elon, 74-59, in their season opener before falling at Xavier, 62-47, on Nov. 13. Brad Stevens's squad delivered a dramatic 72-71 win over Marquette on Monday as senior guard Rotnei Clarke connected on a running 3-pointer from 25 feet at the buzzer.

Returning Talent: The Bulldogs return three starters from last season's 22-15 (11-7 Horizon League) – senior center Andrew Smith (6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), junior forward Khyle Marshall (15.0 ppg) and sophomore forward Roosevelt Jones (7.0 ppg, 6 rpg). With a 119 combined career starts, the trio provides an experienced base for Stevens in his sixth season.

Solid Newcomer: Clarke's buzzer beater over Marquette put his name in the headlines on Monday, but the Verigris, Okla. product is by no means a newcomer to scoring points. The all-time leading scorer in Oklahoma high school history (3,758) averaged 14.2 points per game during his three-year career at Arkansas. He started 91 games for the Razorbacks and led the team in scoring in 2010-11 with a 15.2 average. Clarke (16.0 ppg) dropped 21 on Elon in his first game as a Bulldog.

Fresh Frosh: Kellen Dunham has quickly emerged as a integral piece of Butler's puzzle this season, averaging 11.0 points per game. The 6-foot-6 guard scored 18 points in the season opener before leading the team with 11 points in the loss to Xavier. He struggled, however, against Marquette (4 pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts) on Monday, due in part to foul trouble.

Balancing Strengths and Weaknesses: Butler has struggled to score at times this season, shooting 43.9 percent overall and 27.0 percent from 3-point territory. The Bulldogs counter those issues by taking care of the ball (10.7 turnovers per game) and rebounding (plus-6.0). Monday's win over Marquette is a good example. Marquette outshot (49.0-44.3) and outrebounded Butler (37-34), but the Bulldogs had the edge in offensive rebounds (15-11), assists (10-7) and turnovers (7-14).

Random Fact of the Day: Andrew Smith is the only current college basketball player who has played in two Division I national championship games.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Bulldogs, 104-64, on Jan. 24, 1994.

Series History: North Carolina leads the series with Butler, 2-1.

Projected Starters:
15 Rotnei Clarke (6-0, 184, Sr.) - 16.0 ppg, 2.0 apg
24 Kellen Dunham (6-6, 185, Fr.) - 11.0 ppg, 2.0 apg
21 Roosevelt Jones (6-4, 227, So.) - 7.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg
23 Khyle Marshall (6-6, 216, Jr.) - 15.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg
44 Andrew Smith (6-11, 243, Sr.) - 6.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Top Reserves:
4 Erik Fromm (6-8, 223, Jr.) - 3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg

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(Photos by GWU Athletics & US Presswire)

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