Stephen F. Austin defeated No. 1 ranked Duke 85-83 in overtime on Tuesday, handing the Blue Devils their first nonconference home loss since 2000.
The last time Duke lost to a non-ACC team at home came when it lost to St. John’s 83-82 on Feb. 26, 2000.
A Season of Historic Upsets
That left Duke with a streak of 150 straight home wins against nonconference opponents. But it came to a stunning end against Stephen F. Austin, which came into the contest as a massive 27.5-point underdog, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
That made the result the largest point spread upset in at least 15 seasons of NCAA basketball. Gardner-Webb had defeated Kentucky in 2007 as a 26-point dog to hold that record until last night. Kentucky actually suffered another of the biggest upsets ever earlier this season, when the Wildcats lost to Evansville as a 25-point favorite.
“It’s a very difficult loss. It’s also a loss that if we would have won, we would not have been deserving of winning,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after the game. “That’s the way I look at it, so it’s on me, but you have to give credit to them. They were really good, he’s a good coach and a good program, and they outplayed us.
The matchup didn’t look primed for an upset. Stephen F. Austin coach Kyle Keller said afterwards that his team had been battling the flu, and Duke had a 15-point lead just over the midway point of the first half.
But Stephen F. Austin battled back to force overtime, then won the game by outscoring the Blue Devils 4-2 in the extra period. The final play saw Nathan Bain go the length of the court and put in a layup just before the buzzer to give the Lumberjacks the win.
Win Raises Funds for Stephen F. Austin Hero’s Family
In college basketball, one early season game won’t have an enormous impact on either team’s long-term outlook. While this game will look bad on Duke’s record, they can still earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they put up a gaudy record in ACC play, and barring a nearly undefeated season, even this win won’t put the Lumberjacks in contention for an at-large bid.
Instead, the game and its frantic finish had much more of a real-world impact. Bain hails from the Bahamas, where September’s Hurricane Dorian destroyed his family’s home. Stephen F. Austin had set up a GoFundMe page for Bain’s family (with permission from the NCAA), which had raised about $2,000 by the time Tuesday’s game started. By Wednesday afternoon, it had collected nearly $63,000 from 1,700 donors, far above its $50,000 goal.
“My family lost a whole lot this year, and I’m just playing this game for them,” Bain said after the win. “I just want to make my country proud, and my whole team is behind me.”
In basketball terms, the loss has done little to shake confidence in Duke as a leading national title contender. The Blue Devils are currently the +800 co-favorites with Michigan State at FanDuel Sportsbook, ahead of other contenders like Kentucky (+950), Louisville (+1100), and North Carolina (+1200).