If you’ve ever seen tensions boil over during a pickup basketball game, then you know you don’t need to be in the NBA to get a little too invested in the outcome of a contest.
When you consider far too many people are willing to throw hands over a meaningless showdown at the YMCA, it’s only natural that people who play competitive basketball at higher levels of the game are unable to resist the urge to do the same.
We’ve been treated to plenty of evidence highlighting that reality in the past month alone.
In February, a punch led to a high school basketball game in New Jersey devolving into chaos, Dwight Howard was involved in a heated brawl in Taiwan’s Super Basketball League, and North Florida and Austin Peay engaged in a fracas that spilled into the locker room.
Now, we’ve been treated to another incident courtesy of one player who took “March Madness” a bit too seriously.
On Thursday, SIU-Edwardsville and UT Martin faced off in the quarterfinals of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.
The game was a largely unremarkable one for the bulk of the first half, but it took a wild turn with around four minutes remaining.
SIUE’s DeeJuan Pruitt and UT Martin’s Rifen Miguel got into each other’s faces while battling for position at halfcourt, and things escalated very quickly after Pruitt cocked back his fist and hit Miguel with a massive haymaker en route to sparking a brawl.
Punches were thrown during the Ohio Valley Conference tournament quarterfinal between SIU Edwardsville and UT Martin.
Three players in total were ejected from the game. pic.twitter.com/x0cEFNZc8Y
— ESPN (@espn) March 3, 2023
Here is everything that happened that led up to DeeJuan Pruitt throwing one of the worst sucker punches that you'll ever see in SIU-Edwardsville vs. UT Martin. Hopefully Rifen Miguel is ok. pic.twitter.com/I0l4QfXSMi
— The Field of 68 (@TheFieldOf68) March 3, 2023
According to The St. Louis Dispatch, Pruitt was ejected from the game for throwing what was arguably a sucker punch, and after reviewing the play, the officials also opted to send Miguel and UT Martin’s Jalen Myers to the locker room for attempting to retaliate.
When the dust finally settled, UT Martin advanced to the next round with an 81-75 victory.