Memphis’ ignored timeout is the most controversial moment of March Madness

The No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup between the Memphis Tigers and Florida Atlantic Owls always profiled as one of the best games of the opening round of the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament. Memphis was coming off an improbable run to the American Athletic Conference tournament championship and had a couple of very good players, while FAU entered at 31-3 and had been the best mid-major in the country all season.

The game was a dramatic back-and-fourth slugfest with so many tense moments defining the action. Florida Atlantic beat Memphis, 66-65, on a basket by Nicholas Boyd with two seconds left. It was a moment that happened just before the game-winner though that fully swung the outcome.

Memphis took a one-point lead with 34 seconds left when senior big man Deandre Williams got a tip-in. Florida Atlantic’s Johnell Davis then missed a layup, Memphis got the rebound, and the Owls were suddenly at a point where they needed to foul to extend the game. At least it seemed that way until a wild Memphis turnover triggered a frantic sequence capped by a controversial decision from the refs. Watch the whole thing play out here:

Florida Atlantic got the steal, but Davis was stripped when he tried to drive the ball to the basket. Memphis recovered the loose ball on the ground, but Florida Atlantic tied them up and had the possession arrow. FAU got the ball, and Boyd won the game with a driving basket.

However, it sure looked like Memphis called timeout before FAU tied them up. Practically the entire Memphis team was calling timeout, but the refs didn’t award it. Here’s another angle.

It’s close, but it looks like Memphis got the timeout off before an FAU defender arrived.

Reaction on Twitter was heated, and not just from Memphis fans.

It was a tough night for Memphis all-around. Tigers star guard Kendric Davis hurt his ankle in the second half, but returned to the game at less than 100 percent. Teammate DeAndre Williams was in foul trouble the whole night, and played the last 12 minutes with four fouls. Meanwhile, FAU kept chipping away at the Tigers lead despite cold shooting nights from some of their best players.

Here’s the game-winner from Boyd:

Florida Atlantic has its first men’s NCAA tournament win ever. FAU now has a second round matchup with ... Fairleigh Dickinson, who earlier in the day became the second No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed when they knocked off Purdue.

March Madness can be so cruel at times. Memphis learned that the hard way.

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