Baffling Tennessee timeout ensures overtime loss to Purdue

Tennessee and Purdue played perhaps the game of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16 Thursday that saw the Boilermakers win an overtime thriller.

It came complete with one of the tournament’s most bizarre decisions when the Volunteers called for a timeout with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

Tennessee had just completed a rally from an 18-point deficit and found itself tied with Purdue at 82-82 with 1.7 seconds remaining and the ball under its own basket.

Disastrous final play in regulation

Jordan Bone inbounded the ball near the sideline to Grant Williams, who passed the ball over half court to Jordan Bowden. Instead of heaving up a desperation shot, Bowden looked to the sideline and called a timeout.

The clock read 0.1, clearly not enough time to set up a shot.

Of course a panicked near half-court shot from Bowden wasn’t likely to go in. Overtime was almost imminent once the Volunteers passed the ball twice.

But there’s a difference between almost and definitely. And Tennessee definitely wasn’t going to hit a buzzer beater to win the game in regulation after the late timeout.

The Boilermakers went on to win, 99-94 in the extra session.

Why pass the ball twice to begin with?

So why did Tennessee coach Rick Barnes draw this up? Staring at 1.7 seconds remaining with the full length of the court to go presents a fairy obvious situation that demands a long heave to give a shooter a chance. Even throwing the ball in without a second pass before calling timeout would make more sense.

But the Vols bizarrely attempted to get the ball across half court with multiple passes to set up another play.

And now they’re going home.

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