Was it an upset worthy of storming the court? Was it even an upset in the first place?
Utah State won an important Mountain West Conference men's basketball game Saturday night at home over No. 12 Nevada, taking over first pace in the league standings, and their fans rushed the floor as the buzzer sealed the 81-76 final score. That's where the situation allegedly turned ugly. Nevada claims that celebrating fans touched team members and shouted at them as they tried to exit to their locker room, and also that a Utah State assistant coach yelled profanities at them.
Once off the court, Nevada senior Jordan Caroline punched a fire extinguisher case in a hallway, shattering the glass and cutting his hand. Video captured by Jake Edmonds of Salt Lake City's CBS affiliate KUTV shows Caroline had to be restrained from retracing his steps back toward the court as he shouted expletives. Exactly who Caroline was targeting with his tirade is unclear. Edmunds reported that Utah State fans had chanted "baby daddy" at Caroline as he shot free throws during the game. Moreover, the video shows Nevada basketball staff shouting at police during the hallway melee.
Also at issue is how Nevada wound up in Utah State's hallway instead of the one designated for visiting teams.
"After being notified of an incident in the hallway of the locker rooms after the completion of the game, I have been consulting with Mountain West Senior Associate Commissioner Dan Butterly, who was in attendance at the game, and Nevada Deputy AD Rory Hickok, who was also in attendance at the game," Utah State athletic director John Hartwell said in a statement. "In addition, I have spoken by phone with Nevada AD Doug Knuth and we will continue to gather information, including surveillance videos of exactly what happened, and work closely with the Mountain West Conference and the University of Nevada to determine what started the situation and how we are going to deal with those involved."
In a series of tweets Sunday morning, Knuth stated, "We continue working closely with Utah State and the Mountain West Conference office to determine the facts of the emotional post game events. I have also been in regular communication with [head coach] @EricPMusselman and our Deputy AD who was at the game with the team. The hallway video shows an emotional young man responding to a highly charged game environment and a difficult loss. Our staff stepped in to support this young man. I appreciate coach @EricPMusselman maintaining a calm demeanor and helping his players and staff through a difficult situation. Coach Muss and I will continue gathering information and working with the MW office. We look forward to a full review by the MWC office and will follow their lead on any needed response. Until then, we move forward. Thank you. Go Pack!"
As reported by the Reno Gazette Journal, the Mountain West Conference has the power to issue suspensions or reprimands, or to levy other penalties for the fans' court-rushing or for any postgame altercations between the teams.