PROVO — As often happens in the BYU-Utah rivalry, an incident that has nothing to do with the outcome of the game Saturday night overshadowed a lot of what went on in the actual game.
Everyone wanted to know what happened in an altercation behind the west basket with 34 seconds left when Utah freshman Marshall Henderson hit BYU's Jackson Emery and was called for a flagrant and ejected from the game.
Henderson had been fouled by Emery and he tried to throw the ball off BYU's Jonathan Tavernari in an effort to get possession for the Utes as he fell out of bounds. Emery took exception and had words with Henderson, who smacked Emery across the face. Emery fell down and the crowd went crazy, while coaches from both sides tried to restore order.
Afterwards both sides tried to downplay the incident and Utah coach Jim Boylen even joked, "Please don't make a big deal of this ... I know you will, but don't."
But Boylen didn't try to downplay what happened and he put the blame squarely on his player.
"Marshall Henderson made a mistake," he said. "We're going to handle it and I'm sure the league will look at it. He's a young guy, an energetic, passionate guy, but he made a mistake. He's OK, we're OK, Jackson's OK. Everybody overreacts to that stuff. The guys were playing hard. It was a mistake by my guy. He feels bad about it and we've got to move on."
When one reporter suggested it looked like "an inadvertent gesture," Boylen said, "I don't think it was inadvertent. I wish I could say that I've got to be honest with you."
Boylen hinted that he would suspend Henderson when he said, "we're going to handle it." Last year he suspended Luka Drca for a game for tripping Oklahoma's Blake Griffin in a game.