Heading into Tuesday night, Duke had won a nation’s-best 150 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents. All the top-ranked Blue Devils needed to do in order to extend that streak to 151 was to take care of a Stephen F. Austin squad that was coming off a 69-57 loss to Rutgers.
Final score in overtime: Stephen F. Austin 85, Duke 83; Coach K’s first home loss to a non-ACC team since the Devils lost to St. John’s all the way back on Feb. 26, 2000.
Here are three things you need to know about what went down inside Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday night.
1. We might not see a better ending all season
A legendary upset deserves a legendary finish, and that’s exactly what the Lumberjacks gave the basketball world.
After a sloppy ending to regulation and a sloppy first 4:55 of overtime, here’s how the game ended:
NO. 1 DUKE FALLS TO STEPHEN F. AUSTIN IN A STUNNING ENDING pic.twitter.com/x6xsdesWkL— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 27, 2019
This angle sustains my soul pic.twitter.com/ZEHgfAVQUB— Interim Bunkie Perkins (@BunkiePerkins) November 27, 2019
That’s senior forward Nathan Bain going coast-to-coast and cementing his status as a mid-major basketball immortal.
Bain was one of four Stephen F. Austin players with with four fouls at the end of the game. That didn’t stop him from notching his second steal of the contest and netting his 10th and 11th points just before the final buzzer.
It also bears mentioning that Bain is a native of the Bahamas whose family lost nearly everything it had this past fall when Hurricane Dorian ravaged their home. Bain’s father, a minister, had to watch as his church suffered extreme damage as well.
Nathan Bain is from the Bahamas. His family lost their house, their church, their school in damage from Hurricane Dorian.— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) November 27, 2019
On Tuesday night he hit the game-winner to seal Stephen F. Austin's upset of No. 1 Duke. SPORTS!!! pic.twitter.com/kbe6LKuFtW
For more on Bain’s family’s story as well as a chance to help out, go here.
2. Statistically, this was a bigger upset than Evansville over Kentucky
At exactly three weeks old, the 2019-20 college basketball season is still an infant. And yet, it has already given us two of the more stunning regular-season upsets in recent memory.
On Nov. 12, Evansville strolled into Rupp Arena as a 25-point underdog and stunned then No. 1 Kentucky, 67-64. The Wildcats had previously been 39-0 when ranked No. 1 and hosting an unranked non-conference opponent, and the Purple Aces had never beaten a ranked team on the road in program history.
Before that game, no top-ranked team had been beaten at home by a non-power conference opponent since 1993. It’s now happened twice in the span of two weeks.
Stephen F. Austin, which went 14-16 last season and was picked to finish fourth in the Southland Conference before the start of the season, was a 27.5-point underdog on Tuesday. Via ESPN Stats & Info, that doesn’t just make the Lumberjacks’ win over Duke the largest Division I upset of the season, it makes it the largest of the last 15 seasons.
The upset was also the largest in the history of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. Duke entered the evening No. 1 in the rankings, while Stephen F. Austin was No. 263.
Last but not least, the defeat was also the first time in the history of Duke basketball that the Blue Devils have lost to a non-power conference opponent when ranked No. 1.
3. This wasn’t just a fluke off-night, Duke has issues
The most disturbing thing about the loss for Duke was how many opportunities they had to avoid the embarrassing headlines and put away Stephen F. Austin. On each of those occasions, no player wearing blue and white seemed capable of rising to the moment and making a winning play.
Duke finished with a whopping 22 turnovers and seemed all out of sorts on each of the game’s most crucial possessions, including its final one. To his credit, sophomore guard Tre Jones attempted to be the man at the end of both regulation and overtime. Unfortunately, his offensive limitations made this boldness seem a bit foolish. Jones finished the evening with eight turnovers.
This wasn’t the first time Duke has looked sloppy against what should have been an overmatched opponent. They struggled more than they should have two weeks ago against Georgia State, and then turned the ball over 21 times last weekend against an equally sloppy Georgetown squad in the championship game of the 2K Empire Classic.
Duke’s need for growth will be the story moving forward, but the rest of Thanksgiving Week belongs to the school from Nacogdoches, Texas, and a finish none of us will soon forget.
Stephen F. Austin, and the F is for finisher.