New Mexico State men’s basketball player ejected after punching opponent in the face


New Mexico State men’s basketball player Robert Carpenter will be sidelined for at least one game after he was ejected from Thursday night’s overtime victory over Liberty for punching forward Shiloh Robinson in the face. 

The incident took place early in the first half when Carpenter and Robinson got tangled up under the net with Carpenter looking for a rebound. 

Robert Carpenter drives towards the basket

New Mexico State Aggies forward Robert Carpenter (21) goes to the basket against Kentucky Wildcats forward Tre Mitchell (4) and is fouled during the first half at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.  (Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)

As Robinson turned around to head down court, Carpenter swung at him from behind, appearing to hit him directly in the face. 

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“First and foremost, I just want to apologize to Liberty University coach (Ritchie) McKay for the incident,” New Mexico State men’s basketball coach Jason Hooten said during his post-game presser. “Even if there was something that put Rob in that state of mind to do what he did, it’s still not acceptable.” 

Carpenter, who is in his first season with the program after transferring from Mississippi Valley State, was issued a flagrant foul 2 and ejected from the game. According to ESPN, Robinson did not return. 

“First of all, that’s not the way that we’re going to do things here at New Mexico State University. I think everybody knows me. I think in my 31-year career and 14 as a head coach, I think everybody knows the type of person that I am,” Hooten continued. 

Shiloh Robinson looks on during a game against the Charlotte 49ers

Shiloh Robinson, #33 of the Liberty Flames, looks on during the He Gets Us Hall of Fame Series game against the Charlotte 49ers at Spectrum Center on November 10, 2023, in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

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“I’m very proud of the person I am, and our program will never do those kinds of things.” 

Hooten said he believes that Carpenter will be suspended for at least one game, but he could face more time on the bench if Conference USA deems necessary after reviewing the incident. 

“I think that every league that I’ve been in, normally it’s usually a game suspension for a fight, and then I would guess that Conference USA will get together and watch some video and see if it needs to be longer than that.” 

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Regardless, Hooten knows that Carpenter won’t play in Saturday’s home game against Jacksonville State.  

“My rule is that he won’t play on Saturday. He at least needs to sit out Saturday and then as we move forward we’ll figure out what the ramifications are beyond that.” 

Carpenter is a junior playing in his first season with the Aggies. 

Robert Carpenter looks to make a pass

New Mexico State Aggies forward Robert Carpenter (21) in a game between the New Mexico State University Aggies and the Kentucky Wildcats on November 6, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY.  (Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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He previously played for Mississippi Valley State from 2021 to 2022, where he led the team in scoring, averaging 16.4 points. He also played a season at St. Bonaventure. 

“I know Robert really well – he’s a really, really, really good person and a really good kid,” Hooten said. “Again, I’m shocked at what happened but also know that there’s probably nobody now that’s more remorseful than him. I know he feels really bad about what he did and there’s just no room for that in the game at all, and I feel really bad as the coach – I feel responsible for that.”

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