Stephen F. Austin stunned the sports world on Tuesday night with an overtime buzzer-beating layup to beat No. 1 Duke, 85-83, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Favored by 27.5 points in some places before tip, the Blue Devils suffered their first home non-conference loss since falling to St. John’s in 2000.
Nathan Bain raced for an uncontested layup that fell as the buzzer sounded, giving the Lumberjacks one of the biggest regular-season upsets of the last 20 years in college basketball.
This is the third time the No. 1 team has lost already this season. And we haven’t even reached Thanksgiving yet.
Duke losing in the most dramatic way possible at home to a four-touchdown underdog is an incredible storyline. Bain’s layup was the exact type of play that kids practice on the driveway growing up when nobody else can shoot with you. It’s a memorable highlight, called flawlessly by Eric Collins, that will be shown in basketball montages for years to come.
The Blue Devils falling at home — similar to how previous No. 1 Kentucky lost at home to unranked Evansville a few weeks back — is the latest stunning upset to hit the sport this season. Duke’s loss is also yet another indication that college basketball might not have a dominant team this season.
It’s fair to point out that early-season polls are far from an exact science. The typical bluebloods, however, are showcasing plenty of flaws early in the season in losing to mid-major teams at home. There’s a lot of youth being counted on for teams like the Blue Devils and Wildcats that has been inconsistent the first month of the season.
For Duke on Tuesday night, the Blue Devils played mediocre defensively, didn’t shoot particularly well from the perimeter and also had issues with 20 turnovers. Stephen F. Austin was able to get high-scoring senior wing Kevon Harris rolling as he finished with 26 points.
There is still plenty of time for Duke, Kentucky, or any team in college basketball to get markedly better and look like complete national championship contenders by the time we reach March. But it seems as though many of the top teams have a long way to go to reach the standards we’ve come to expect from some of the top programs in college basketball.
Based on how the first month of the season has gone, Louisville should be very weary as the new likely No. 1 team next week.