Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Kansas’ Bill Self, Marquette’s Shaka Smart exchange heated words after ‘dust-up’ when benches cleared

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Things got heated between the head coaches of Marquette and Kansas on Tuesday night during the No. 4 Golden Eagles’ 73-59 win over the No. 1 Jayhawks during the Maui Invitational semifinal. 

Marquette’s Shaka Smart and Kansas’s Bill Self were seen voicing frustrations with one another after a play cleared both benches. It all started when Kansas guard Kevin McCullar talked trash to Smart after hitting a three-pointer with 3:19 left to go in the first half. 

“Kevin McCullar is one of the best competitors I’ve coached against in a long time,” Smart said after the game, per The Kansas City Star. 

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“He played at Texas Tech and he always has brought an edge that is different. He’s always enjoyed having a dialogue with me. He probably does that with all coaches. That kind of started the little dust-up. Their bench got involved. Our bench got involved. At the end of the day, it really had very little to do with the game.”

The “dust-up” involved both benches coming on the court, with referees needing to get involved to break it up. However, there was an interesting exchange that came when Self and Smart were both speaking with officials by the scorer’s table. 

Self clearly did not like what Smart was saying, and that certainly was the case when he told his side of the story after the team’s loss. 

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“I doubt it was accurate, just so you know, and I don’t even care” Self said about Smart’s version of the story. “I’m not going to talk about it. I guarantee it wasn’t accurate.”

Smart divulged more. 

“Our staff was worried about me getting kicked out of the game. I never even intended to get a technical foul,” he explained, as both benches received a technical foul. “One thing (I’m) going to make clear: We don’t take a backseat to anyone. That’s how we go about things.

“That’s the only way you beat Kansas. Our first year at Texas, we were up five at halftime at Phog Allen (Fieldhouse). One of our coaches told me, ‘Coach you’ve got to convince these guys they can win.’ I said, ‘What do you mean, we’re up at halftime?’ He was exactly right. We didn’t have the belief we needed to have. They won (over his UT team) like they always do at home. I learned the hard way against Kansas. You’ve got to stand up to them. The most important part of that was our players. They stuck with it.”

Self did praise the way Marquette played to improve to 5-0, while his Jayhawks suffered the first loss of the new college basketball season. 

However, during their exchange, when referees eventually sent them off to their benches, Self and Smart kept jawing back and forth. At one point, it appeared the camera caught Self mouthing “unbelievable” while looking Smart’s way. 

What was truly said between the two is unknown, but these two college basketball powerhouses might see each other down the road considering their ranking this year. 

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