After instigating a brawl that marred a fantastic WAC contest between New Mexico State and Utah Valley on Thursday, Aggies junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller has been suspended indefinitely, according to ESPN.com.
Following Utah Valley's 66-61 overtime victory, chaos ensued. While the players were in the midst of a brawl, fans rushed the court to celebrate the Wolverines' big win, exacerbating the situation.
Per Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports, the brawl was initially triggered by Ross-Miller throwing the ball at Utah Valley's Holton Hunsaker immediately after the game:
Utah Valley SID: Brawl began when NMSU's KC Ross Miller threw ball at Holton Hunsaker. NMSU players were fighting w/fans who rushed court.— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) February 28, 2014
While it is unclear what prompted Ross-Miller to react in that manner, New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies deemed his actions unacceptable, according to ESPN.com.
No matter what provoked K.C. what he did was inexcusable and hence the suspension. It is an honor and a privilege to wear an Aggie uniform and a responsibility comes with that privilege. I will wait until I've had a chance to talk with our conference officials and university administration before any other disciplinary actions may or may not be taken.
The brawl likely would have occurred regardless after Ross-Miller threw the ball, but having so many fans on the court certainly didn't help matters. Steve Kaplowitz of ESPN 600 Radio in El Paso, Texas, believes that the fans deserve part of the blame as well:
As much as NMSU's KC Ross-Miller initiated tonight's brawl, UVS should never let students on court. Looked like hoops version of Slapshot.— Steve Kaplowitz (@stevekaplowitz) February 28, 2014
As seen in this photo of the brawl courtesy of Sporting News, it was an extremely dangerous situation for everyone on the court:
In addition to Ross-Miller, a couple other New Mexico State players were prominently involved in the melee too. ESPN.com is reporting that junior guard DK Eldridge appeared to throw a punch at the crowd, while junior guard Daniel Mullings claimed that he was hit.
No disciplinary action has been taken against either player, and it isn't yet known how lengthy Ross-Miller's suspension will be, but further review will help in making those decisions.
While Menzies tried to look for an explanation for why Ross-Miller threw the ball, he came to the conclusion that his players can't allow others to get in their heads.
I don't know what exactly happened. I was kind of going over to shake hands. I want to apologize for K.C.'s actions. From what I understand, he threw the ball after the game was over and had expired. I don't know what provoked it. I mean, Hunsaker's a little chippy himself so he may have said something or done something, but you just can't respond. I mean, we showed them plenty of clips where they do things that can get underneath your skin a little bit and you've got to be tougher than that mentally, and I'm just upset that he did that.
How long should Ross-Miller be suspended?
After losing to Utah Valley, the Aggies find themselves in second place in the WAC, although they control their own NCAA tournament destiny—they just need to win the conference tournament.
Being without Ross-Miller for an extended period of time will hurt as he averages eight points per game and leads the team in assists, but New Mexico State has plenty of depth. Six other players on the roster average 7.7 points or more per contest, while Mullings is capable of taking games over.
A rematch with Utah Valley in the WAC tournament is a very real possibility, and it's only natural that some hard feelings will still exist. Hopefully both teams learn from what happened and don't make the same mistakes next time, but the rematch will be a must-see game for college basketball fans if it comes to fruition.
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