Durham, North Carolina (KTRE) - The SFA Lumberjacks pushed Duke to the limits Tuesday and walked away with a 85-83 victory.
SFA went into Duke the clear underdog to the top team in the country and one of the all-time legends in college basketball.
John Comeaux put SFA out to a 3-2 lead on their first possession of the game but Duke came right back and in the first half opened at the most a 15-point lead. Senior Kevon Harris was a big part of the game scoring 20 of SFA’s 40 in the first half. At the break Duke was up 45-40.
In the second half SFA outscored Duke 41-36 to send the game to overtime tied at 81. In a very tough five minute strech both teams only were able to score two points a piece until the closing seconds. That was until the final seconds when SFA forced a turnover in the final 10 seconds and Nathan Bain went uncontested down the court for a layup and the win at the buzzer. This is the first ever win for SFA over a No.1 ranked team in the country. The Southland Conference also had a 50 game losing streak against AP top 5 teams and were 0-10 against number 1 teams heading into the game.
“We made history for Stephen F. Austin" SFA Head Coach Kyle Keller said. "We’re now 1-0 against the team that’s ranked No. 1 in the country in the AP poll. We’re a one-bid league, ask me on Selection Sunday if it means anything. I’m sure Coach K will get after his team tomorrow and they probably won’t have a good Thanksgiving because of this, but it will make their team a lot better. We need to remain humble because we only get one bid into the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully, this will give our league some national respect because of how good our league is.”
According to the Duke game recap, SFA snapped Duke’s 150-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents and became the first non-Atlantic Coast Conference team to beat Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in nearly 20 years and the second unranked team to upset a No. 1-ranked team on its home floor in two weeks after Evansville went into Rupp Arena and stunned Kentucky 67-64.
“They won," Duke coach Mike Krzyewski said. "They forced turnovers. That’s what they do. They force 25 or 26 a ball game. A key factor of the ball game is to be strong with the ball and we were not strong with the ball. That’s the easiest answer. You have to be strong. If someone is going after you hard, you better catch it hard. We were catching it with one hand and trying to make a move. If it’s physical that ball is not coming with you. It’s not a foul. It’s the physicality of the game. You have to catch it. It’s not a game where territory was easy, so you have to fight through. We were not good and they made us that way. This is not about us not showing up. They played really well. Sometimes when I’m talking about what we didn’t do, I don’t want to disrespect their performance. Their performance was outstanding and they deserve their recognition for that. They did it to us. They made us look bad.”
The big key to the win for SFA was turnovers forcing 22 for 22 points on the night.
“That’s how we play but they’re playing Stephen F. Austin,"Keller said. "We were lucky. They’re coming home and they haven’t lost here in two decades, after playing in Madison Square Garden where they just smashed Georgetown in the second half. They’re at home the week of Thanksgiving. They were probably overlooking us. We were just lucky. That’s what we do defensively and we had a senior, Kevon Harris, keep us in the game in the first half. He’s helped us win a lot of games since he’s been here.”