The SEC agreed that officials ruled correctly when it reviewed that time ran out in Georgia's loss against Texas A&M. But the league also admitted the officials "failed to recognize the game clock was not functioning properly" once time was stuck on 5.6 seconds left to play.
With time winding down and Texas A&M leading Georgia 63-62, guard J.J. Frazier looked up and saw the clock at 5.6 seconds left to go. Instead of pulling up for a shot, he fed forward Yante Maten in the post, who was then fouled on a shot attempt.
When play was stopped, officials noticed the clock was stuck on 5.6 seconds and reviewed the play. Once referees figured out when the game clock stopped working, officials used a stop watch to determine when the foul on Maten occurred. It came after a 5.6-second span, which meant the game was over.
By rule, officials are unable to put time back on the clock in this scenario.
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"With 5.6 seconds remaining in the Georgia-Texas A&M game, there was a malfunction of the Precision Timing system which stopped the game clock while play continued," the SEC's stated. "Game officials failed to recognize the game clock was not functioning properly during live action. Once the clock stoppage was discovered, NCAA rules were appropriately administered with the use of the courtside monitor for replay and a digital stopwatch to determine that time expired before a foul was assessed to a Texas A&M defender. Because rules do not permit time to be put back on the clock in this situation, the contest was ended.
"The NCAA uses Approved Rulings as clarifications to various situations. Further information on the application of NCAA rules in this instance can be found in the NCAA Case Book, A.R. 121.: 'A correction is only permitted when it falls within the prescribed time frame limit. When it is determined that there is no time left on the game clock, the (first half) is ended and the personal foul is not assessed.' This example is consistent for application at the end of a game or the end of any overtime.
Essentially, the SEC said the way the rule was assessed was correct. But with the word "failed" used in the statement, it would appear the league is suggesting the game officials needed to be aware of the clock malfunction before it became too late.
This explanation probably won't do much for Georgia head coach Mark Fox, who saw his team fall from 12-7 overall and 4-3 in league play.
Fox is on the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee and told reporters after the game that this is something that may need to be looked at.
"I’m on the rules committee so maybe that’s one I say we ought to change," Fox said.