Butler dominates Ball State in the second half at Hinkle Fieldhouse
Butler senior Rotnei Clarke started Saturday's game at Hinkle Fieldhouse in style by converting on a three-pointer in the first minute. That made field goal was Clarke's 300th career college three-pointer.

However, Butler's early defense left a little to be desired for as Ball State played the role of the aggressor and tied the game at 33 on a basket by Majok Majok that beat the first half buzzer.

"The physical play was won by Ball State in the first twenty minutes in my opinion," said Brad Stevens. The Butler head coach was quick to give the Cardinals credit for their first half performance and Billy Taylor was proud of the way his team started in a hostile environment.

"We really played with a lot of fight today. The first 20 minutes was very competitive, and I thought we did a lot of positive things on both ends of the floor," added Taylor.

Ball State took its first lead of the game 35-33 on the first possession of the second half on a basket by Zach Fields. However, the Cardinals only converted on field goal in the next 14 minutes as Butler turned up the heat defensively. The Bulldogs also found a spark off the bench from Alex Barlow. Stevens gave Barlow a majority of the credit for the second-half turnaround as Butler prevailed by a comfortable 67-53 final margin.

"He changed the game. That is the guy that changed the game, there is no other story in my opinion. He and Roosevelt (Jones) did a great job on them defensively on the perimeter. Our bigs were were better and tougher on the inside in the second half and we won," said Stevens during his opening statement in the post-game press conference.

It was far from a perfect performance from the Bulldogs (5-2) who appear to be finally getting their legs back following the pre-Thanksgiving week trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. "We weren't normal yesterday, we weren't normal Thursday. I don't feel like our practices have been as good as you'd want the last two days, but a lot of that is due to just not having bodies out there," explained Stevens. Rotnei Clarke (led all scorers with 15 points) and a few other Bulldogs had been under the weather this week.

"We did a good enough today to move forward and from now on, you're rolling, you're back, you're adjusted. I feel a lot better, I think these guys feel a lot better. We certainly weren't going to talk about it before today, we weren't going to use it as an excuse," added Stevens.

Ball State (2-4) on the other hand, concludes a difficult four-game stretch of games without a victory. The current losing skid started just prior to Thanksgiving with a loss to Indiana State and includes defeats to Indiana, Cleveland State, and now Butler. The Cardinals are not very experienced and the losses could be a blow to the confidence of a fragile team, Coach Taylor acknowledged the improvements that were made Saturday and stressed the importance of looking at the big picture.

"While we didn't win any of these games and we came out to win each one of those games, we did get better. We got better from IU to Cleveland State, to this game here today, we got better. Now it is important for our team to to carry that over into Monday's practice, Tuesday's practice, and Wednesday's game and then we'll really be able to see growth from our basketball team," said Taylor.

Butler hosts another in-state foe Wednesday as IUPUI visits Hinkle Fieldhouse. Ball State hopes to end its four-game losing streak the same night as the Cardinals host Holy Cross (IN).