INDIANAPOLIS — Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith each scored 20 points to lead No. 19 Butler past pesky Evansville 75-67 on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (9-2) won their sixth straight and completed a sweep of the five Indiana schools they played this season in non-conference action – including last weekend's stunning overtime victory against the top-ranked Hoosiers.
Evansville (7-5) was led by Colt Ryan with 25 points and Ned Cox with 12 as the Aces lost for the first time in three games.
Butler, playing its first game since last week's win over then-No. 1 Indiana, was sluggish early but regrouped with a 22-8 run that gave the Bulldogs a 25-17 lead with 6:34 left in the first half.
Evansville spent the rest of the game playing catch-up.
In their first game since breaking into the Top 25, Butler finally opened some breathing room with a quick 8-1 scoring flurry that made it 64-50 with 4:26 left. Evansville got within four in the final minute, but the Bulldogs closed it out at the free throw line.
Butler ended a two-game skid in this 118-game series. The Bulldogs open Atlantic 10 play Jan. 9 at conference favorite St. Joseph's and will not play another in-state school during the regular season.
On a day when Butler honored some of its longtime fans along with former players and coaches, the Purple Aces didn't make things easy. They broke out to a 9-3 lead before Butler's offense started to get in sync.
The Bulldogs then scored six straight to tie the score, four straight to take their first lead, four more in a row to regain a 17-15 lead and closed the flurry with an 8-0 run that made it 25-17 with 6:34 left in the first half.
But every time it looked as though the Bulldogs were poised to break away, the Aces had an answer. They scored the last four points of the first half to make it 35-31, then hung around early in the second half, too.
Butler appeared to take control following back-to-back layups from Kameron Woods and Smith. The Bulldogs then called timeout to set up a play for Clarke, who drove the left side for a layup, drew a foul and made the free throw for a 48-36 lead.
Evansville, however, forced three turnovers and two missed shots on the Bulldogs' next five possessions. The Purple Aces got baskets from Ryan Sawvell and Ryan, cutting the deficit to 48-43.
A few minutes later, Butler again appeared to put it away when Roosevelt Jones scored on a layup, Kellen Dunham drove in for a layup and then hit a 19-footer, and Clarke ended the run with a 3-pointer that gave Butler a 64-50 lead with 4:26 to go.
Evansville closed to 71-67 with 25 seconds to go on a 3 from Ryan, but the Bulldogs made their last four free throws to seal it.