LAWRENCE, Kan. — Of all the ugly aspects in the end-of-game brawl between Kansas and Kansas State basketball players Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse, arguably the most disturbing facet flew somewhat under the radar.
But Bill Self noticed.
“It happened in handicapped seating,” said Self, speaking after the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks’ 81-60 victory over the Wildcats. “If you’re going to do something, at least take it on the court or whatever. It’s ridiculous that they would go into the stands.”
Ridiculous could very well be the word of the evening.
Punishments are expected to be handed down Wednesday to the players involved in the melee, which occurred in the final seconds of the Sunflower Showdown tilt. Both Self and K-State counterpart Bruce Weber were unable to give a full evaluation of what happened Tuesday — the head coaches were in the postgame handshake line when the incident was sparked — but both indicated that their own program shares blame for what happened.
Here’s what is known to have unfolded, pieced together through both ESPN’s broadcast of the game, additional footage released by the network after the skirmish and clips posted to social media by journalists sitting behind the basket, where the fight originated.
With three seconds left in the blowout, K-State’s DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from KU’s Silvio De Sousa just past midcourt. De Sousa, however, was able to chase Gordon down and block his shot from behind. But the Jayhawk junior forward was unable to leave well enough alone — De Sousa hovered over the now-downed Gordon for several seconds.
MELEE BREAKS OUT:Wild brawl erupts at end of Kansas-Kansas State rivalry game
That’s when Wildcat freshman forward Antonio Gordon flew into the picture, shoving De Sousa backward and away from the freshman guard Gordon. Other shoves were exchanged while some players and assistant coaches attempted to play peacekeeper — both teams had reserves in the game at that point, though each bench cleared and all of those players were subsequently ejected.
De Sousa appears to escalate the physicality, throwing the brawl’s first punch in the direction of Wildcat junior guard David Sloan. K-State redshirt junior forward James Love, inactive and wearing street clothes, engages with De Sousa, and the two appear to throw punches at one another. De Sousa then picks up a metal stool and holds it over his head before dropping it. De Sousa is finally corralled by Self and Jayhawk assistant coaches, the approximately 35-second brouhaha settling down.
KU’s Marcus Garrett and David McCormack rush to a downed Love near the end of the mayhem, though it’s unclear if the pair engaged with Love physically.
Both teams left the court through opposite tunnels, but officials forced them to return — it was determined De Sousa’s block went out of bounds with one second left, and the Luanda, Angola, native was assessed a technical foul for taunting. K-State’s Pierson McAtee converted 1 of 2 tries from the free-throw line to give the game its final score.
In a news release, KU athletic director Jeff Long called the conduct of a handful of Jayhawk student athletes “simply unacceptable and not reflective of who we are.”
“There is no place for this conduct in college athletics or here at KU,” Long said. “I would like to apologize to the Big 12 Conference, Kansas State University, (athletic director) Gene Taylor, Bruce Weber and all fans for the lack of sportsmanship from members of our team this evening.”
Self called his players’ roles in the incident “an embarrassment.”
“This doesn’t have anything to do with competition,” Self said. “Those were selfish motives on why that took place at the end.”
Weber shouldered a degree of blame for the incident, though he said DaJuan Gordon and the rest of the Wildcats were told not to press in the final moments with the outcome long determined. Self cited “multiple issues with K-State on this front” — an end-of-game dunk by KU’s Brannen Greene during the 2015-16 season in a lopsided KU victory; an end-of-game dunk by Barry Brown last season in a lopsided K-State victory — but didn’t mention any prior moment by name.
This situation is “a little different,” Self observed, as it was the losing team that attempted the meaningless buzzer-beater.
“I’m not sure that it’s the right thing to do, but I’m not going to place any blame on Gordon going and taking (De Sousa’s) ball,” Self said. “I mean, Silvio knew he was being defended and he took his ball, and certainly the way Silvio reacted to him taking his ball, going down and blocking the shot, that’s all fair game. Horn hadn’t gone off yet. But what transpired after that is obviously what set everything off.”
A nationally-televised black eye on both programs, the incident is one that, if Self were a fan, would do nothing to entice him to watch future college basketball games, he commented.
“We’ve seen things like this happen at other places and certainly it gets some attention and you know it’s the exception and not the rule, but still, it’s inexcusable,” Self said. “These things can’t happen.”
The lasting image, it would seem, will be De Sousa lifting the metal stool.
“I was there when that happened, yeah,” Self said. “Which is, regardless of what happened, it’s a terrible image and there will certainly be consequences for that.”