INDIANAPOLIS – When Butler’s shooters finally warmed up Tuesday night, Duquesne looked lost.
Rotnei Clarke scored 16 points, Khyle Marshall added 14 and the reeling Dukes had no answers as the 15th-ranked Bulldogs pulled away for a 68-49 victory.
Butler (22-5, 9-3 Atlantic 10) rebounded from its only home loss this season by matching its second-largest victory margin of the season. The Bulldogs have now won five of their last six, are 13-1 at Hinkle Fieldhouse and managed to keep pace with league-leading Virginia Commonwealth, which went into the night with a one-game lead over Butler and a half-game lead over St. Louis.
Duquesne (8-18, 1-11) was led by Derrick Colter with 11 points and Jerry Jones with nine. But it lost for the 15th time in 17 games and dropped to 46-116 all-time against ranked opponents.
The Dukes, who rely heavily on 3-point shooting, never led and never mounted a serious challenge after the first 10 minutes.
Butler led just 15-12 midway through the first half.
That’s when the Bulldogs changed directions by reverting to the crisp brand of basketball their fans have come to expect.
The result: They took control and never let it go.
Butler’s decisive charge began with a 3-pointer from Clarke and a 15-foot floater from Clarke to make it 20-12. Kellen Dunham scored the next eight for Butler, six coming on a pair of 3-pointers, and suddenly the lead expanded to 28-17. Alex Barlow and Andrew Smith followed that barrage with two more 3s in the final 98 seconds of the first half, sending Butler to the locker room with a 36-22 lead.
That was all Butler needed to turn this game into a rout.
Marshall opened the second half by scoring nine points in Butler’s 13-7 run, which pushed the lead to 49-29, and Duquesne never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.
Bulldogs center Andrew Smith, who missed last week’s loss to Charlotte with an abdominal injury, finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Butler has now matched its victory total from last season.
And coach Brad Stevens picked up win No. 161, tying North Carolina State’s Everett Case for the second most victories by a coach in his first six seasons. Stevens already holds the record for most wins by a coach at the three-year, four-year and five-year marks.