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Mike Lopresti | | November 27, 2019

17 wild (but true!) facts from Stephen F. Austin's upset at Duke

Watch 9:54 of nothing but March Madness buzzer-beaters

It was the layup heard ‘round the college basketball world. A Duke turnover, a breakaway the other direction, a basket at the buzzer, and suddenly the formerly little-known Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks were celebrating on the court of Durham Indoor Stadium — the first non-conference opponent able to do that in 151 games and nearly 20 years. They were a thousand miles from home and light years behind in pedigree. It didn't matter.

Where to begin with the earth-shaking shocker that was Tuesday night in Durham? We can start counting . . . 17 amazing things about Duke’s 85-83 overtime loss to SFA:

1. Duke held Kansas to 66 points, and four other opponents to 63 or under. The Lumberjacks scored 64 Tuesday night — in the paint alone.

2. With overtime to yet save the day, Duke scored one basket in the five extra minutes — while committing six turnovers. That made 22 overall. SFA came in ranked 350th in the nation in turnovers a game, last on the NCAA stat sheet. But the Lumberjacks had only 14.

3. SFA senior Nathan Bain comes from the Bahamas, where his family lost nearly everything it had last summer in Hurricane Dorian. A GoFundMe page had been set up to help. He had scored only 20 points in the Lumberjacks’ first five games, but now his name is on the national marquee and his game-winning layup secures his spot in college basketball lore. Who could make up that story?

4. In those 150 Duke home non-conference wins in a row, not one had ever gone into overtime.

5. The Blue Devils — shouldn’t they have more players? — were outscored 27-7 in bench points.

6. Duke shot 40 free throws, Stephen F. Austin only 17. The Lumberjacks were called for 29 fouls. That couldn't save the Blue Devils, either. "If we would have won, we would not have been deserving of winning," Mike Krzyzewski said afterward. And he was right.

7. It had been 7,212 days since Duke lost a non-conference game at home. When that happened — to St. John’s on Feb. 26, 2000 — there were only nine schools in the ACC. The Big 12 still had 12, the Big 10 had 11. LeBron James was a high school freshman, Tiger Woods had won only two majors, Tom Brady was soon to be taken in the sixth round of the NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams had just won the Super Bowl and the Houston Astros were in the National League. John Calipari was an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers, Bill Self was at Tulsa, Roy Williams at Kansas, and Bob Knight at Indiana. Chris Mack, whose Louisville team is now in line to be ranked No. 1, was one year removed from coaching girls high school basketball. Vernon Carey Jr, Duke’s leading scorer Tuesday night, was not yet born. And Twitter did not exist.

8. Duke has won 114 NCAA Tournament games in its history. Stephen F. Austin has won two. Which is why coach Kyle Keller’s pre-game words to his team go in the pep talk hall of fame: "I told our players, 'Banners can’t beat us tonight. The players have to beat us.'"

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9. The Lumberjacks went 14-16 last year, and were picked to finish fourth in the Southland Conference this season, behind New Orleans, Sam Houston State and Abilene Christian.

10. Duke had not played a team from the Southland Conference in nearly 20 years. So Duke lost to Stephen F. Austin, who lost to Rutgers, who lost to St. Bonaventure, who lost to Canisius, who lost to Brown, who lost to Sacred Heart. Should Sacred Heart be in the top 10?

11. SFA had never played Duke. For that matter, the Lumberjacks had only played three current ACC teams before in their history — Notre Dame, Syracuse and Miami — and lost to all three.

12. When Mike Krzyzewski started coaching at Duke, Stephen F. Austin was an NAIA school.

13. Krzyzewski has 1,138 victories. Tuesday night was Keller’s 65th at Stephen F. Austin.

14. The Lumberjacks had been 3-9 in true road games since the beginning of last season.

15. SFA’s most famous win before this was as a No. 14 seed, taking out No. 3 West Virginia 70-56 in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. They lost in the second round to Notre Dame by one point.

16. Duke got its name from an industrialist family whose money helped start the school. Stephen F. Austin from the founder of Texas.

17. What was it Michigan State’s Tom Izzo had just said the night before, after the Spartans were bushwhacked by Virginia Tech? "Upsets happen." Right. Three No. 1 teams have already been beaten this season, and we’re not yet to Thanksgiving. Evansville over at Kentucky figured to be the shocker of the year. It only kept that designation for two weeks.

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