The inventor of the timing device used in No.1 Tennessee's 59-58 win over No.5 Rutgers on Monday night suspects human error led to the disputed ending.
Precision Time Systems inventor and president Michael Costabile said there is plenty of room for human error in running the game clock. At issue is whether Rutgers' Kia Vaughn fouled Nicky Anosike before time expired.
"The system works really, really well," said Costabile, who watched the game on TV. "Have we had somebody hit the wrong button? Yes."
Television replays showed the game clock seemed to pause at .2 seconds for about 1.3 seconds before running to zero as Anosike came down with an offensive rebound and was grabbed from behind by Vaughn.
Officials replayed the video and ruled the foul came just before the buzzer. Anosike hit the two free throws for the victory.
The Precision Time device, which keeps time for all NBA games and many at the college level, uses small microphones attached to the referees' whistles that communicate wirelessly to devices worn on the referees' belts, which start the game clock. When the device picks up sound from the whistle, the clock stops.
The official must hit a button on his belt pack to restart the clock.
At the same time, the official timekeeper manually controls the clock. Whichever signal is picked up first - the sound of the referee's whistle, the click of the belt pack button or the pressing of the timekeeper's button - officially controls the clock.
Costabile said because the clock seemed to pause before reaching zero indicates to him that an official or the timekeeper may have stopped the clock, anticipating Anosike would be fouled, then restarted it when that wasn't immediately the case.
"That can take as much as 0.8 seconds to 1.5 seconds," he said. "That's telling me people froze up. It's only as good as someone pushing the button."