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Big Ten confirms that referee was at fault in Michigan State-FGCU ending

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Florida Gulf Coast v North Carolina

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 17: Head coach Joe Dooley of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles reacts in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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The Big Ten confirmed what NBC Sports reported last night: That it was an error made by one of the referees - and NOT Michigan State’s timekeeper - that started the clock early on the final play of the Spartans’ win over FGCU.

“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 Big Ten’s statement read. “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 conference did not name the official.

FGCU had the ball under the Michigan State basket, down 78-77 with 1.6 seconds left last night at the Breslin Center. On the final play, the clock was started when the inbounder threw the pass as opposed to when it was caught by the FGCU player. That player, Antravious Simmons, caught the ball as the horn sounded and rushed a potential game-winning shot at the rim.

The officials went to the monitor to review the play and ruled that the game was over.