If Yancy Gates' right hand that dropped Xavier's Kenny Frease was the most brutal sucker punch of the college basketball season, the one that Arizona State's Ruslan Pateev threw on Monday night may have been the most tame.
Southern Mississippi forward Torye Pelham and Pateev were jostling for rebound position beneath the basket when Pelham threw a forearm shiver into the Arizona State center's chin. An irate Pateev then retaliates with a punch to the back of an unsuspecting Pelham's head as both are running back upcourt, though the force of Pateev's cheap shot barely was enough for Pelham to break stride.
The incident thankfully didn't escalate the way the Cincinnati-Xavier brawl did, though most of the Southern Mississippi reserves did leave their bench before the Golden Eagles coaching staff herded them back to their seats. Pelham and Pateev were ejected, as was Southern Mississippi reserve Ahyaoro Phillips, who came off the bench.
With all the negative publicity Xavier guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons received for their initial lack of remorse over the brawl with Cincinnati, you would think players would now be wise enough to apologize after tempers flare. Instead Pateev apparently was still so heated after the game that he initially defended his actions on Twitter before later deleting the tweet by Tuesday morning.
Southern Mississippi landed the last blow on Monday night when ex-Kentucky forward Darnell Dodson sank a game-winning pull-up three at the buzzer to give the Golden Eagles a 64-61 victory.
Dodson had 17 points for Southern Mississippi in his first game since being reinstated to the team. The 6-foot-7 transfer originally was dismissed from the program in April after he was arrested on auto and residential burglary charges at a fraternity house.