No. 13 Michigan St holds off FGCU 78-77 in disputed finish

Michigan State's Eron Harris, right, grabs the ball as Florida Gulf Coast's Rayjon Tucker defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 78-77. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Al Goldis/AP

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) The horn went off too soon, and Michigan State hung on.

Eron Harris had a season-high 31 points and the 13th-ranked Spartans held off Florida Gulf Coast 78-77 on Sunday night when a timekeeping error led to a disputed finish.

With 1.6 seconds remaining, Florida Gulf Coast's Christian Terrell threw a long inbounds pass from underneath his own basket. But the clock incorrectly started when the pass was thrown, rather than when Antravious Simmons caught the ball by the foul line at the other end of the court.

So as Simmons turned to try a game-winning shot, the buzzer sounded – much too early. Simmons missed his attempt, but FGCU players looked confused and coach Joe Dooley sought an explanation.

Officials went to a video review as players and fans waited to find out if the game was indeed over.

''Since a timing error occurred, we are able to utilize the replay monitor,'' referee Bo Boroski told a pool reporter. ''Using a stopwatch, it was determined the ball was caught and released in 1.3 seconds, meaning if the shot would have gone in, it would have counted. After the miss there was no time remaining in the game, therefore ending the game. By rule the possession cannot be replayed.''

And that was that.

After the game, Dooley said he understood the ruling.

Harris made all six of his 3-pointers and Miles Bridges added 13 points for the Spartans (2-2), who shot a season-best 51 percent from the floor. They hit 52.9 percent of their attempts from beyond the 3-point line, but struggled at the free throw line (57.6 percent).

''It's hard to be honest and mad and happy at the same time,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''We got to the free throw line 33 times. Twenty-one assists on 25 baskets was very, very good. We improved in some areas, but I thought we got outplayed. The biggest thing this program has stood for has been toughness, but I told our players they were the tougher team.''

Florida Gulf Coast (1-3) got 18 points apiece from Brandon Goodwin and Simmons, who added 12 rebounds. RaySean Scott Jr. added 14 off the bench.

''I thought it was a great college game. Great atmosphere. I'm proud of the way our guys competed,'' Dooley said. ''Obviously disappointed with the ending, but we put ourselves in some spots that we shouldn't have. But that's what happens when you play a really good team, and Michigan State's a really good team.''

The Eagles shot 46 percent overall and 47.1 percent from the foul line. They outrebounded Michigan State 41-29.

''They were tougher than I thought they were going to be,'' Harris said of Florida Gulf Coast. ''They weren't trash-talkers or anything. They got out there and played hard.''

It was the second meeting between the schools. Michigan State won 97-58 in East Lansing on Nov. 13, 2009.

BIG PICTURE

Florida Gulf Coast: The Eagles dropped to 1-8 against ranked opponents. The school's only win came during its improbable run in the 2013 NCAA tournament, when it beat No. 8 Georgetown in the second round.

Michigan State: The Spartans kept their November home winning streak alive, but barely. They haven't lost at home since David Robinson led Navy past Michigan State 91-90 in overtime on Nov. 29, 1986.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

If it were up to Izzo, there wouldn't be any for his team. ''This will be one of the four or five best teams we play in the preseason,'' Izzo said. ''That team will play in the NCAA (Tournament). No question about it.''

BY THE NUMBERS

Goodwin has been Florida Gulf Coast's leading scorer in all four games this season, while Simmons recorded his first double-double of the season. The Eagles outscored Michigan State in the paint (40-22) and on second-chance points (24-9).

UP NEXT

Florida Gulf Coast is home Wednesday against Binghamton, the start of a seven-game stretch that includes six at home.

Michigan State, which has played in Hawaii and New York this month, travels to the Bahamas for the final three games of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament beginning Wednesday, when the Spartans take on St. John's. They finish the month with a Nov. 29 game at Duke.