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College Basketball Rules for the Shot Clock

author image Jeremy Hoefs
Based in Nebraska, Jeremy Hoefs began writing fitness, nutrition, outdoor and hunting articles in 2006. His articles have been published in "Star City Sports," "Hunting Fitness Magazine" and RutWear field journals, as well as on the Western Whitetail website. Hoefs graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
College Basketball Rules for the Shot Clock
The shot clock in men's college basketball is set to 35 seconds. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Basketball rules are designed to outline the violations, timing limits, court dimensions and general procedures for coaches, players and officials. In college basketball, the shot clock is used as a supplementary component to the game clock. The shot clock was implemented to increase the overall flow of the game, requiring the offensive team to attempt a field goal before the time expires.

Clock Placement

According to the NCAA men's and women's basketball rules, two shot clocks must be visible with one at each end of the court. The rules state that the shot clock should be mounted above the backboard on the support structure. LED lights must be used to illuminate the shot clock so it can be easily seen by players, coaches and officials. If the permanent shot clocks malfunction, an alternate timing device is required to be readily available.

Time Frame

Starting in the 1985 college basketball season, the shot clock was set to 45 seconds. In 1993, the shot clock was changed to 35 seconds for men and 30 seconds for women. The shot clock is intended to run continuously during every live ball situation and only stops when the game clock stops. The offensive team must attempt a field goal before the shot clock expires.

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Starting the Clock

The shot clock in college basketball starts after the ball is put into play during a throw-in situation. According to the NCAA basketball rules, the clock starts "when the ball is legally touched by or touches a player on the playing court." For example, after a team makes a field goal and the other team takes the ball out of bounds, the shot clock is reset and starts again when the ball is touched on the throw-in.


During an offensive play, the shot clock may stop and start periodically along with a reset of 35 or 30 seconds. Resetting the shot clock, however, only occurs after a change of possession, defensive foul or an attempted field goal hits the rim. For example, if the offensive team misses an attempted field goal but assumes an offensive rebound, the shot clock is reset and the team receives another 35 or 30 seconds to attempt another field goal.

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