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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Disturbing details emerge from witnesses of bar fight involving Wyoming’s Luke Martinez

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Luke Martinez (Getty Images)

The more we learn about the bar fight that led Wyoming to suspend senior guard Luke Martinez indefinitely, the less likely it seems the Cowboys' second leading scorer will be returning to the court anytime soon.

An affidavit of probable cause obtained by the Casper Star-Tribune cites several witnesses who claim Martinez kicked a victim in the face during the Dec. 30 fight after teammate Derrick Cooke Jr. knocked the victim out with a punch.

One witness in the affidavit suggested Martinez took "a running start" of about 15 feet before kicking the unconscious victim in the head as he lay in the street in front of a bar in Laramie. A second witness said Martinez kicked the victim's head "like it was a football." The victim's brother told police the victim suffered multiple fractures of his jaw in the fight and had to have his jaw wired shut.

Police arrested Martinez on a charge of aggravated battery and assault on Sunday for his involvement in the fight, during which he also broke a bone in his hand. Cooke has not been arrested, perhaps because witnesses say he punched the victim to protect Martinez after the victim swung at his teammate first.

The negative publicity from the incident has tarnished what otherwise has been a sterling season for Wyoming. The Cowboys (14-1) were one of the final four unbeaten teams in the nation before falling at the buzzer to Boise State last Wednesday, and they rebounded with a road win at Nevada over the weekend.

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Even though Wyoming has gone 2-1 without Martinez, the team misses its premier outside shooter and perimeter defender. Martinez was averaging 14.5 points per game and 42.2 percent 3-point shooting prior to the fight, and he scored 25 points against Denver in his second-to-last game.

Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt has been vague about details of the incident or if Martinez might return from suspension this year.

"Luke made a bad decision, being out late at night, and consequently was in a little bit of a ruckus," Shyatt told radio host Tim Brando on Monday. Later he added, "We're going to do everything we can to help him, but we've got to let the process play out."

Even ignoring the fact that Shyatt used the phrase "little bit of a ruckus" to describe a fight that sounds more serious than that, what's disconcerting is that Martinez, Cooke and a third player were out at a bar in season at 2:30 a.m.

Nobody should be naive enough to think college athletes don't go out and party just like regular college students do, but it's probably wise to be more prudent in the middle of what is otherwise a potentially special season at Wyoming.

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