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SIUE player throws punch, sparks fight in loss to UT Martin in OVC tournament

SIU Edwardsville's DeeJuan Pruitt
SIU Edwardsville's DeeJuan Pruitt punched UT Martin's Rifen Miguel in the face just before halftime on Thursday night in the OVC tournament. (AP/Jeff Roberson)

Things got heated Thursday night at the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Just minutes before halftime of SIU Edwardsville’s 81-75 loss to UT Martin at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, SIUE forward DeeJuan Pruitt reared back and punched UT Martin forward Rifen Miguel in the face.

The two were walking up the court and were in each other's faces. Things were physical between the two up until that point, but Pruitt’s escalation seemed to come out of nowhere.

UT Martin forward Jalen Myers came in and tried to throw a punch at Pruitt, but he missed.

After officials separated the group and a more than 10-minute delay, the three were ejected from the game. Miguel’s face was bleeding as he left the court, per the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

UT Martin held a four-point lead when the fight broke out. SIUE retook the lead just before halftime and pushed ahead to a double-digit lead midway through the second period. The Cougars' last field goal of the game came off a Demarco Minor 3-pointer with 3:50 left, and UT Martin ended the night on a 17-1 run to take the six-point win.

Minor finished with 32 points and nine rebounds for SIUE after shooting 11-of-19 from the field. Lamar Wright added 22 points off the bench, and was the only other Cougar to score in double figures in the loss.

Jordan Sears dropped 33 points to lead the Skyhawks in the win, and Koby Jeffries added 14 points off the bench. Miguel had seven points and two rebounds when he was ejected.

UT Martin will take on Tennessee Tech in the semifinals of the OVC tournament on Friday night.