Stephen F. Austin! Raise The Axe!

SFA 85 Duke 83

Jim Rome
November 27, 2019 - 9:44 am
Stephen F. Austin

USA Today


Every so often in sports, there’s one of those moments. One of the ones that makes you say “holy crap.” And last night, one of those went down in Cameron Indoor Stadium with Duke hosting Stephen F. Austin.

And it went down in the most dramatic way possible. In a tie game in overtime, with the Lumberjacks battling like crazy on defense, getting the ball and doing this.

Nathan Bain! Stephen F. Austin! Raise the axe! Shoutout to the legend, Thomas Walkup!

Hell yes your voice is going to crack on that one. Because that is unreal.

Stephen F Austin 85
Duke 83

In overtime. In Cameron Indoor.

There are buzzer beaters. And then there’s that. What an absolutely incredible way to pull off a ridiculous upset. The ball left Bain’s hand with roughly a tenth of a second left and went down.

Think about how ridiculous that was - 45 minutes into that game, a game where Bain had played 34 minutes, he gets the ball roughly 80 feet from the basket and goes on a sprint. He doesn’t call timeout. And you know he had to be gassed, his legs and lungs are burning, the clock is ticking down, and he handled that like an absolute legend.

And the way he described it to Brendan Marks after the game makes it seem way easier than it really was.

You sure as hell did it, Nathan. That was amazing. And I love how he described it being like a layup drill. But that was no layup drill.

No layup drill involves you trying to stay ahead of a defender with split seconds left on the clock to beat the number one team in the country and pull off the biggest win in school history. 

Then again, this is Nathan Bain we’re talking about. The Pride of Freeport, Bahamas. And in the last few hours, the world has gotten to know his story and the story of his family, a story which includes them losing nearly everything in Hurricane Dorian.

What a moment. Of course being the guy to knock off Duke doesn’t change the pain of everything his family lost, but if you made a movie about last night, it would be too much. It would be too Hollywood.

Because that wasn’t just an upset, that was THE upset. That was as incredible an upset as you’ll ever see.

This was a Tuesday night game in November. It was the 262nd team in the kenpom rankings against the number on team in the country. In their house.

It was such an overlooked game that it was a regional broadcast. This is Duke. They’re on TV more than Leave It To Beaver re-runs and the Beave was probably on more TV’s last night at the start of the game than Duke and Stephen F. Austin.

Stephen Freaking Austin.

The same Stephen F Austin that lost to Rutgers by 12 their last time out. They were a 28 point underdog last night. But they came in on a mission.

As SFA coach Kyle Keller said: "I told our players, `Banners can't beat us tonight.’ The players have to beat us."

And they couldn’t. Duke’s banners couldn’t. Duke’s players couldn’t. That was SFA’s night.

And this wasn’t some underdog who came in and shot the lights out from deep. That is supposed to be the path to an upset like this, but SFA made 2 three pointers all night. They weren’t even on fire from the free throw line. And they were down 15 at one point.

But Kyle Keller’s crew kept working, they kept raising the axe, and they absolutely killed Duke in the paint. The Lumberjacks were doing work with 64 points in the paint.  

And they got after it on defense. The Lumberjacks will turn you over. That is just a fact. They went into last night leading the nation in turnovers. And they forced 22 Duke Turnovers. And multiple shot clock violations.

As Bain said: "People don't like pressure. Everyone wants to be comfortable, be able to see the floor. It's a winning formula -- you deny passes, you pressure the ball, make people play 1-on-1, and that's hard. You can't do that for 40 minutes. You have to have some great lungs."

SFA has some great lungs. And some huge hearts.

As Coach K said afterwards, SFA was better than Duke.

How ridiculous was that win? It’s the first time Duke has lost to an non-conference opponent at home since they lost to St. John’s back in 2000. Many of the guys playing last night weren’t even born then.

That was a St. John’s team that had Erick Barkley and Bootsy Thornton. That was a St. John’s team adjusting to life without Ron Artest, who’d been drafted eight months earlier. That’s how long ago that was.

That’s the kind of history we’re talking about. And what does that history sound like? Kind of like this.

Check the audio on this video from the stands.

That screaming sounds almost too good to be true. The OG, Thomas Walkup retweeted that with the caption: The gasps. The screams of terror. And the roar from the small section of purple. It’s all beautiful!!

It is beautiful. It’s perfect. It’s just this side of “Oh my god, this is not happening”

Nathan Bain left Duke fans feeling like they’d just eaten 40 pizzas in 30 days. And left Duke Haters feeling like they were on top off the world. Raise the axe!

If you didn’t know when 25 point Dog Evansville pooped in Cal’s Ice Cream a few weeks ago, you know now after Stephen F. Austin, a 27.5 point underdog beat #1 Duke, there’s no dominant team in college this season. And its gonna make this season, and tournament awesome!