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Musselman apologizes for post-game altercation in Maui

by Bob Holt | November 27, 2022 at 4:09 p.m.
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman reacts to play against Louisville during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Eric Musselman released a statement Sunday apologizing for what he called “negative dialogue” he and some of the UA staff had with San Diego State fans immediately after the No. 9 Razorbacks beat the No. 17 Aztecs 78-74 in overtime Wednesday.

The incident happened following the third-place game of the Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii.

“We recently played a highly contested and emotional game against an exceptional San Diego State team,” Musselman said in his statement. “Shortly after the game, I and some members of our program responded with negative dialogue to a few San Diego State fans.

“I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the San Diego State community and especially to head coach Brian Dutcher, his staff, their excellent team, and their enthusiastic fans for this postgame interaction.

“We highly value, appreciate and respect our participation in the 2022 Maui Classic.”

According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, which had a reporter at the game, as the teams went through the postgame handshake line, Musselman had a heated verbal exchange with fans sitting behind the Aztecs’ bench.

Musselman made an “L” with his right hand — referring to the loss by San Diego State — according to the Union-Tribune report. A photo of Musselman forming an “L” with his hand also has been circulated on social media.

Video on social media showed some fans from the packed crowd of 2,400 at the Lahaina Civic Center on the floor being restrained from going after Arkansas’ staff. 

“There was just an Aztec fan that came down and said some things,” Musselman said at his postgame news conference in Lahaina when asked about the incident. “There were words exchanged.”

When Musselman was asked Saturday during a Zoom news conference with media about the post-game incident, he said he only wanted to talk about Monday's game against Troy. But he added that he had "been in discussions" with Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek.

“San Diego State’s an incredibly well-coached team, and they’re going to have a great year,” Musselman said on the Zoom call. “I think that’s a team that can go really, really far in the NCAA Tournament. They’re a team that defends and is physical.

“We’re a team that tries to defend. Right now we’re just trying to figure out in a short turnaround how we can prep for Troy.”

After the Arkansas-San Diego State game, the Maui Invitational released a statement about what happened.

“There was an isolated incident following the game this evening,” the statement read. “Security acted quickly and appropriately to immediately remove those involved from the arena.”

Arkansas played San Diego State for the first time since beating the Aztecs 85-68 in Pine Bluff during the 1981-82 season and 76-64 in Little Rock during the 1985-86 season, but Wednesday night marked the 11th time Musselman has faced San Diego State as a head coach.

In Musselman’s four seasons at Nevada before taking the Arkansas job, his Wolf Pack teams were 3-7 against the Aztecs in Mountain West Conference matchups.

Arkansas went 2-1 in the Maui Invitational, opening with an 80-54 victory over Louisville and losing to No. 10 Creighton before playing San Diego State. 


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