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On-court official started clock early at MSU game

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo argues with an official during Sunday night's game.

East Lansing – The clock in Sunday night’s Michigan State-Florida Gulf Coast game was started prematurely by an on-court official, the Big Ten announced on Monday, and not the sideline timekeeper.

With 1.6 seconds left in the game at the Breslin Center, Florida Gulf Coast inbounded the ball from under its own basket and the clock started early. As forward Antravious Simmons grabbed the pass and turned to shoot, the horn sounded and his shot missed.

After a review by the on-court officials, it was determined by stopwatch the shot would have counted had it gone in but that time expired after the shot, giving Michigan State the 78-77 victory.

Following the game, lead official Bo Boroski said simply a timing error occurred and that the clock can be started by all three on-court officials and the sideline timekeeper. He did not say who started it on Sunday night.

That led to a statement on Monday from Rick Boyages, Big Ten associate commissioner and Men’s Basketball Collegiate Officiating Consortium coordinator.

MSU gets disputed victory over Florida Gulf Coast

“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,” Boyages said in a statement. “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.”

The statement absolved the timekeeper, who is assigned by Michigan State, of any wrongdoing.

The consortium 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 statement went on to say officials 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.”

In addition to Boroski, the other on-court officials for Sunday’s game were Lewis Garrison and Kelly Pfeifer.