MSU men's basketball escapes FGCU with last second game clock error
Update 9 a.m. Men's Basketball Collegiate Officiating Consortium release on the clock error
The Men’s Basketball Collegiate Officiating Consortium released a statement saying the clock error occurred in the game as the result of an on-court official improperly setting the clock in motion on the time keeping device on his belt.
The device, a Precision Timing belt pack, is worn by all three officials on the court. One official set the clock in motion while the inbound pass was in the air instead of when the ball touched a player on the court. The officials on the court recognized the error and sought a review using a handheld stop watch to determine whether or not the shot would have counted had it gone in, per protocol.
The officials determined the shot was off in 1.3 seconds — 0.3 seconds before the clock expires — but since the shot did not go in, no time was to be added to the game and the game was therefore over.
"The subsequent adjudication of rules, allowing for use of the courtside video monitor and a hand-held digital stopwatch to determine whether the shot was released prior to expiration, and if there was any time remaining in the game, were properly administered," according to the release.
No. 13 MSU men’s basketball escaped Florida Gulf Coast in a thrilling 78-77 win Sunday night aided by a clock error that seemed to have cheated FGCU out of a chance to win.
With 2.8 seconds remaining in the game, FGCU guard Christian Terrell tried to inbound the ball out of a timeout, only to have it swatted out-of-bounds by MSU forward Miles Bridges on the baseline.
Bridges’ block drained the clock to 1.6 seconds, giving FGCU ample but short time for a buzzer-beating shot on an executed inbounds pass.
Terrell’s second in-bound attempt hit the hands of Antravious Simmons at the right elbow of the paint as time expired. Simmons’ shot was long, effectively ending the game.
However, an in-bounded ball does not start the clock until either team touches the ball. By the time Simmons had collected the ball, the clock ran out and the buzzer sounded.
The buzzer had gone too early, prompting FGCU coaches and players to throw their hands up, imploring officials for an explanation.
The officials on the floor reviewed the play and determined the game to be over, prompting further questioning over exactly what went wrong on the floor.
“A stopwatch was used to determine if any time should remain on the game clock,” head official Bo Boroski told pool reporter Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News in a statement. “Using a stopwatch, it was determined the ball was caught and released in 1.3 seconds, meaning if the shot would have gone in, it would have counted. After the miss there was no time remaining in the game, therefore ending the game. By rule the possession can not be replayed. Period.”
Further questioning by Charboneau was met with non-answers as he pressed for how the error occurred as Boroski reiterated his statement again.
All four officials, which consisted of three referees on court and one clock operator, have the ability to start and stop the clock, though it was not determined which official caused the clock error.
FGCU head coach Joe Dooley was upset on the court, but more restrained though visibly frustrated in the post-game press conference.
“That he did not turn his … that the referee did not have control of the clock,” Dooley said of the explanation he was given. “That by rule, if the ball had gone in, they could review it and if it didn’t, you can’t review it. But he caught the ball at zero.”
MSU head basketball coach Tom Izzo told reporters that the clock operator was not affiliated with MSU, and that had the shot gone in it would have counted.
“As mad as I am sure he was, I don’t know what would have changed, I mean, he still got the shot off,” Izzo said. “You’re only going to get one shot off in 1.6 seconds.”
Per ESPN, Big Ten spokesman Brett McWethy has said the conference is reviewing the final play and will not issue a statement until the process is officially complete.