Big Ten says official misapplied rule

An official's back court violation call in the closing seconds of Minnesota's 58-55 victory over Virginia Tech on Wednesday was the wrong ruling and the referee who made the call will be disciplined, the Big Ten announced Friday.

Down 56-55 with 9.9 seconds on the clock, Virginia Tech's Dorian Finney-Smith tossed the ball to Robert Brown on the inbounds. Brown bobbled the pass and the ball crossed half court. An official blew the whistle, signaling a back court violation.

The Big Ten said Brown, who tried to catch the inbounds pass, never established possession.

Rule 4, Section 4, Article 6 of the NCAA's rulebook says, "After the throw-in ends, an inbounds player in the front court, who is not in control of the ball, may cause the ball to go into the back court."

"The Big Ten Conference announced (Friday) that it has disciplined a men's basketball official for misapplying a rule in the final seconds of the Virginia Tech-Minnesota game played on Wednesday evening," the conference's statement said. "The misapplication of Rule 4 Section 3, back court/front court, occurred with 9.9 seconds remaining in regulation."

The Gophers regained possession after that call and Julian Welch knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the victory.

It was a crucial game for the Hokies, who have narrowly missed the NCAA tournament multiple times in recent years. A road loss to a Minnesota squad that played without starters Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe could hurt Virginia Tech's resume in March.

Myron Medcalf covers college basketball for ESPN.com.