Gophers' Richard Pitino on Kansas brawl: 'It's not good for anybody'

Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Richard Pitino looks on during the Big Ten Conference college basketball game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Purdue Boilermakers on January 2, 2020, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. ( (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) )

The college basketball world is reeling after a Big 12 rivalry game between Kansas and Kansas State ended with a bench-clearing melee Tuesday night.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa has been suspended indefinitely for his role in the incident, which happened at the end of the Jayhawks’ 81-60 win over the Wildcats. De Sousa had the ball stolen by DaJuan Gordon, who went in for a meaningless lay-up with one second to play. De Sousa blocked the shot emphatically, then stood over Gordon.

Kansas State players left the bench, and a near brawl ensued that included De Sousa holding a chair over his head. It was taken away before he could hurt anyone with it. University of Minnesota basketball coach Richard Pitino offered his reaction to the situation on Wednesday.

“You hate to see it, certainly. I don’t know exactly what transpired, I know it’s a big rivalry. It’s not good for anybody, and certainly not good for our sport in general to have that happen,” Pitino said.

While it’s not comparable, Pitino and the Gophers had their own bench-clearing incident two years ago. Facing Alabama in a non-conference game, Collin Sexton became the center of a skirmish where punches were nearly thrown. The entire Alabama bench came onto the floor, and by rule, were all ejected after the play was reviewed.

Add on to it that an Alabama player fouled out, another suffered an ankle injury and the Crimson Tide played the final 10 minutes with only three players. The Gophers got out of one of the most bizarre games in college basketball with an 89-84 win.

Not one Gophers player left the bench during the on-court altercation. Pitino said he leaves that part up to his staff.

“It’s hard, it obviously doesn’t look good at Kansas. I only know my program, like I’m not one of these coaches to say nothing ever bad happens. You’ve got young kids and you try to educate them as much as you possibly can to act the right way and to make sure that things don’t escalate to a certain point,” Pitino said. “I’m sure that all those kids, Kansas, Kansas State, are remorseful of it. It’s a bad look obviously.”

Tensions got high on the court last week in the Gophers’ 75-69 win over Penn State. Daniel Oturu and Mike Watkins were assessed technical fouls in the second half, and Lamar Stevens did his share of jawing throughout the game.

In the postgame handshake, Oturu had choice words for Stevens, but Oturu was pulled away by teammates and cooler heads prevailed.

Marcus Carr, a Gophers captain, offered his reaction to the incident at Kansas. He said as a team captain, he tries to take it upon himself to separate players if there is a skirmist. Sometimes, things happen too fast for that to be possible.

“I don’t know what those guys were saying to each other and everything like that. In basketball sometimes, the heat of the moment things happened and it just looked like tempers flared a little bit,” Carr said.