KU, KSU show solidarity in 1st game since brawl

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MANHATTAN, Kan. — A month after a brawl punctuated the final seconds of their first meeting of the season, players and coaches from Kansas and Kansas State had a positive exchange prior to Saturday’s game.

After the national anthem, the two teams met at half court and shook hands.

Bill Self said he reached out to Kansas State officials and asked for the moment of solidarity to help erase the residue of last month’s game, where the lasting image of Silvio De Sousa holding a stool over his head highlighted the escalation of emotions in the Jayhawks’ 81-60 victory over their chief rival.

“What happened over there at our place was an embarrassment to both teams, both schools, and certainly [there is] no place for it,” Self said. “But we’ve never had a problem with K-State players, and they’ve never had a problem with our players.

“We’ve had some players do some silly things or some not-so-bright things at the end of the game before, but in the battle of competition. During competition, it’s always been classy. Certainly, I think that was a way to hopefully show people that it’s still just a game, it’s still just a competition.”

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber echoed those sentiments.

“Obviously the first one ended in not a special moment in K-State-Kansas rivalry history,” Weber said. “We wanted to make sure this one started with a positive moment of sportsmanship. We can move forward now, worry about the game and how it’s played.”

Last month, DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from De Sousa as he attempted to dribble out the clock in the final seconds. As Gordon raced down the floor, De Sousa caught up to him, blocked his shot and stood over him. James Love III, Antonio Gordon and David McCormack all got involved, along with other players from both teams.

Fans seated courtside, including some fans with disabilities, scrambled to avoid the fight. De Sousa (12 games), Love (eight games), McCormack (two games) and Antonio Gordon (three games) were all suspended by the Big 12.

While Saturday’s matchup lacked the same fireworks — Udoka Azubuike and Makol Mawien getting hit with double technical fouls after trash-talking in the first half was the most heated moment of the game — it was clear that officials at Kansas State had prepared for the worst.

Multiple police officers stood on the perimeter of the court before the game started. State troopers roamed the corridor that separates the locker rooms for the home and visiting teams at Bramlage Coliseum. And when the game ended, six police officers rushed toward the handshake line to make sure the two teams avoided the craziness from the first meeting.

Unlike the first game, Kansas State got off to a hot start, making seven of its first 14 3-point attempts. The game was tied 48-48 with seven minutes to go and Gordon’s 3-pointer cut KU’s lead to three, 60-57, with 27 seconds to go.

Overall, players seemed to handle the rematch with class. Devon Dotson, the star for Kansas who scored 25 points and finished with an 8-for-11 clip, was laughing with Kansas State’s Cartier Diarra toward the end of the game.

The two became friends after working basketball camps together.

“That’s my guy,” Dotson said. “He was just cracking jokes.”

Although the first game is in the past now, Self had to address the status of Azubuike, who played just 20 minutes after leaving the game in the first half with an ankle injury and tweaking the injury again in the second half.

Azubuike finished with six points (2-for-4) and nine rebounds.

After the game, Self said he didn’t have any major concerns about Azubuike’s status going forward.

“He came back and played, although he wasn’t effective, but he came back and played,” Self said. “The way he laid on the ground initially, amputation may have been a viable course of action. But he came back and at least he gave us some minutes, even though he wasn’t effective. We probably don’t win the game unless he was able to give us some minutes.

“… I imagine he’ll be fine, but big guys like that, a turned ankle probably affects him more than a guard.”

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