Updated at: 12/29/2012 8:37 PM
By TERESA M. WALKER
(AP) NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Rotnei Clarke hit six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points and the 18th-ranked Butler Bulldogs shook off a sluggish start and routed Vanderbilt 68-49 Saturday night for their seventh straight victory.
The Bulldogs (10-2) missed their first seven 3-pointers and led only 25-22 at halftime before taking control of the game with a 14-3 run to open the second half.
Clarke, who missed his first six shots, had another memorable game in Memorial Gym. He scored 36 points in January 2011 playing for Arkansas, hitting 6 of 8 beyond the arc in that game.
This time around, the senior guard hit 6 of 9 from 3-point range before Butler coach Brad Stevens starting pulling his starters. Kellen Dunham added 12 points.
Kyle Fuller led Vanderbilt with 10 points. Kedren Johnson finished with nine, well below his average of 17.8 points and didn’t score until nearly three minutes into the second half.
The Bulldogs hadn’t played Vanderbilt since the 1929-30 season and picked a good time to visit with the Commodores trying to replace their top six scorers from the team that won the Southeastern Conference tournament last season.
Butler has won all four games in this series, and this came pretty easily as the Bulldogs outshot Vanderbilt 47.1 percent (24 of 51) to 33.3 percent (17 of 51) and outrebounded the Commodores (42-27).
Butler also finished 8 of 20 beyond the arc, hitting eight of its final 13 after that cold start.
Roosevelt Jones got Butler’s second-half run going with a basket before Clarke hit another 3, and Clarke’s fourth 3 of the game capped the 14-3 run with a 39-25 lead with 15:27 left.
He hit two more, and Dunham added a 3 to push the lead to 51-34 with 8:16 left. Clarke hit two free throws to push the lead to 62-39 with 4:07 left before heading to the bench for the rest of the game.
Vanderbilt had its best crowd of the season at Memorial Gym with 11,990 fans, and they got to see the Commodores harass Butler into some ugly shooting in the first half.
Neither team had played in a week with the holiday break. The Bulldogs started off hitting just 2 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half and 35.5 percent overall.
Vanderbilt used an early 8-0 spurt to lead by as much as five, and the teams wound up swapping the lead six times with three ties.
Vanderbilt last led 17-16 on a pair of free throws by Shelby Moats, then Clarke finally hit his first 3-pointer with 4:54 left to put Butler ahead.
Josh Henderson tied it at 20 before Woods dunked to put Butler ahead. Clarke caught a pass and hit Butler’s second 3 with 1:08 left. The Bulldogs could have led by more if not for throwing the ball away after trying to hold for the final shot of the half.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)