Michigan State narrowly avoided an embarrassing upset against Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday night after a controversial late-game ending. After the program formerly known as Dunk City tied the game on (what else?) a tip-dunk with 38 seconds left, Cassius Winston hit the go-ahead free throw for MSU on the next possession.
A few possessions later, Florida Gulf Coast was left with one last chance inbounding the ball from under its own basket. After the Eagles’ first attempt was batted down by MSU freshman Miles Bridges, the second pass made its way down the court for a remarkably good look that missed left as time expired.
One problem: notice that the clock started running as soon as the pass was throw, not when Florida Gulf Coast caught the ball. After a review, the officials decided the shot would have counted had it gone in. Since it didn’t, Michigan State won the game and the final possession wasn’t replayed.
Been told by source close to Florida Gulf Coast that ref at Michigan State game said he never hit start button on his belt. Brutal if true.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) November 21, 2016
Michigan State, now 2-2, desperately wanted to avoid a loss to a team from the Atlantic Sun. It took 31 points from Eron Harris and a little help from the clock operator to make it happen, but Sparty is now back to .500. Great effort from Florida Gulf Coast. We still love you, Dunk City.
Update: The Big Ten released a statement Monday, stating a game official improperly “set the clock in motion via his Precision Timing belt pack”:
Big Ten Associate Commissioner and Men’s Basketball Collegiate Officiating Consortium Coordinator Executive Director Rick Boyages acknowledged an officiating timing error during the final play of the Florida Gulf Coast at Michigan State men’s basketball game on Sunday, Nov. 20.
While the on-court officials and Michigan State timekeeper have the ability to start and stop the clock, after a complete review of the timing error on the game’s final play with 1.6 seconds remaining, it was confirmed that a game official improperly set the clock in motion via his Precision Timing belt pack. 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.
All officials assigned by the Collegiate Officiating Consortium are graded and evaluated on every play of every game throughout the season. Officials are held accountable pursuant to policies and procedures established by both the Big Ten Conference and the Men’s Basketball Collegiate Officiating Consortium.
The Men’s Basketball Collegiate Officiating Consortium, LLC provides regional oversight of officiating operations in the Big Ten, Horizon League, Mid-American Conference, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Summit League and Northern Sun. The consortium considers this matter concluded and will have no further comment.