To begin a basketball game, a tip-off is typically used to determine the first possession of the game. Then, in the second half, the team that did not start with the ball in the first half gets the first possession (or TeamA-TeamB-TeamB-TeamA format for a 4 quarter game).

For the purpose of this question let's assume a 2 half game, because it is overall simpler, but I figure the rule associated with this situation would be similar for a 4 quarter game.

What happens the player at the tip-off from one team (say Team A) hits the ball out of bounds off the tip, without it touching any other player? Does possession go to Team B? Additionally, if possession does go to Team B, does Team B additionally start with ball possession in the second half (as if Team A had won the tip-off normally and subsequently turned it over on the first possession)?

2 Answers 2


In the NCAA, the first possession of the second half goes to whoever has the possession arrow (rule 6-1.2 [pdf link]), not necessarily whoever lost the opening tip. If the opening tip goes out of bounds, the first possession (by whoever did not touch it last) establishes the alternating possession, and after that it works normally.

If a tie-up occurs before either team has gained possession, then a new jump ball is held (rule 6-2.3).

Similarly, in the NBA, possession beginning each period is determined by who had the first possession (rule 6.I.b). Tipping the ball out of bounds does not count as a possession (rule 4.XVIII).


As far as what happens if the tip-off goes out of bounds, yes, the team that didn't tip it out of bounds will get possession

I can't find anything official, but I would bet that the team that didn't have the first possession of the game will get it at halftime, since I don't think it matters "how" you get the first possession of the game.

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