Butler's Andrew Smith, left, and Alex Barlow swarm around Duquesne's Jerry Jones in the first half Tuesday night in Indianapolis.
By Michael Marot The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS -- Duquesne coach Jim Ferry got a glimpse into his future plans Tuesday night.
He watched No. 15 Butler play lock-down defense, rely on balanced scoring and win going away. If the Dukes can follow that recipe, they might start winning again.
It just could not happen soon enough to avoid this defeat. Rotnei Clarke scored 16 points, Khyle Marshall had 14 and Andrew Smith just missed a double-double as the Bulldogs pulled away for an easy 68-49 romp against the reeling Dukes at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
"I thought we played extremely hard tonight, but I thought we were significantly out-talented," Ferry said. "That's one of the best defensive teams I've seen in a long time. They're extremely disciplined and when they're so balanced offensively, that's a really tough game to win, especially here."
It already has been a long season for the Dukes (8-18, 1-11 Atlantic 10), who have won two road games -- at Appalachian State and at Temple -- and have now dropped 15 of their past 17.
Derrick Colter scored 11 points and was the only Dukes player to reach double figures. Jerry Jones, who had nine points and four baskets, and Kadeem Pantophlet and Sean Johnson, who each had seven points and three baskets, were the only other Duquesne players with more than two field goals.
Nobody had more than five rebounds or three assists. The Dukes shot 37.3 percent from the field and were 5 of 21 on 3-pointers to finish with their third-lowest point total of the season.
"They force you out, they contest shots and you don't get a sniff of an offensive rebound," Ferry said.
The Bulldogs (22-5, 9-3) needed a game like this after dealing with so many close calls -- and so many injuries -- over the past month.
Clarke went down in a frightening collision with the basket support Jan. 12 at Dayton. The Bulldogs rallied without their leading scorer, beating the Flyers and winning two of the next three games Clarke missed. He has been scoring nearly 20 points per game since returning and against Duquesne he managed to score eight second-half points despite taking only two shots over the final 20 minutes.
On Feb. 6 at St. Bonaventure, Jones, who beat Gonzaga with a late steal and a buzzer-beating floater, went down with a shoulder injury. He has been wearing a brace since and had posted three consecutive double-figure games heading into Tuesday. He didn't hit that number against the Dukes, but still finished with good numbers -- 6 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
Last week, the Bulldogs lost their only home game of the season with Smith on the bench with an abdominal injury. On Tuesday, he was back to his old self, scoring eight points, grabbing 10 rebounds and delivering assists on Butler's first two baskets.
And now that Butler has everybody reasonably healthy heading into the season's final stretch, the defense has becoming almost impenetrable, too.
"I thought our guys were ready, I thought our guys played hard and I thought our guys played well," coach Brad Stevens said. "Our guys really locked in defensively and I thought we played at a much better pace."
For the Bulldogs, it wasn't a perfect night by any stretch.
Without their usually crisp passing early, Butler's shooters struggled.
But when they warmed up, Duquesne never had a chance.
"I think collectively, we're guarding better now," Marshall said. "We held another great 3-point shooting team to 49 points, so that's great."
At first, it didn't look like it would be this easy.
But the Bulldogs turned a 15-12 lead into a 20-12 advantage when Clarke hit a 3-pointer and followed that with a floater. Kellen Dunham scored the next eight for Butler, six coming on two 3-pointers, and the lead increased to 28-17. Alex Barlow and Smith followed that barrage with two more 3s in the final 98 seconds of the half, sending Butler to halftime with a 36-22 lead.
That was all the Bulldogs needed to make it 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.