Multiple sources confirmed that Missouri players were spit on at the conclusion of Sunday evening’s basketball game between the Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC.
The rivalry is one that has been growing between two programs who play a similar style of physical basketball. Sunday’s game reached a boiling point late in the second quarter when a scuffle following a rebound ensued. While there was pushing and shoving and a couple of ejections on the Missouri side for leaving the bench, cooler heads prevailed between the players during the second half.
South Carolina’s fans are passionate and Mizzou head coach Robin Pingeton was complimentary of the environment of a sold out arena of 18,000. They made it difficult for the Tigers, as any strong home court advantage should. Every time star player Sophie Cunningham touched the ball, a cascade of loud boos came from the fans.
“It’s almost a compliment and that’s they way I’m going to take it,” said Cunningham at Tuesday’s media gathering. “I must be doing something right, if all 18,000 are going to boo me every single time I touch the ball.”
However, there was a small sample of USC fans who went over the top in showing their displeasure for Missouri players.
I asked coach Robin Pingeton if she had heard of the allegations of her players being spit on. Hear her response below.
These allegations will certainly add fuel to this rivalry. Watch Robin’s entire press conference and remember to follow me on Twitter @Missourisports
(SKIP TO 4:35 TO HEAR MY QUESTION)
— Bill Pollock (@missourisports) January 30, 2018
Mizzou Athletic Director Jim Sterk spoke to Missourinet affiliate KTGR and had this to say regarding the incident.
South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner released a statement, citing there was no confirmation that they alleged behavior took place.
“The commitment to a secure environment for everyone at our home games, including fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff from the home and visiting teams is of the utmost importance. In anticipation of this rivalry game, the athletics department provided security for the Missouri basketball team, above its standard operating procedure. Upon hearing the accusations regarding our crowd’s behavior towards the Missouri team, the athletics department conducted a review of our operations from the game, including interviews with staff and security personnel. In this review, we received no confirmation of the alleged behavior directed at the visiting team by fans at the game.”