Stephen F Austin Duke Basketball

Stephen F. Austin head coach Kyle Keller, a former Tyler Junior College assistant coach and head coach, directs his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

NACOGDOCHES — Nathan Bain and Stephen F. Austin are household names this Thanksgiving weekend, following a men's college basketball result that is being called the biggest upset in more than a decade.

Bain's break-away layup in the final second made its way through the net and capped Stephen F. Austin's 85-83 win over No. 1-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Tuesday night.

ESPN called the victory the biggest upset in 15 years, based on the 27.5-point spread that was set by the Westgate Sports Book in Las Vegas before the contest.

SFA's victory ended Duke's 150-game winning streak in home games against non-conference opponents, a run of success that dated back to the 2000 season.

The upset was ESPN's top story late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning. It was also the conversation of ABC's Good Morning America during the show's round-table discussion.

Bain, a 6-6 senior forward from Freeport, Bahamas, became an instant star.

Recruited by former head coach Brad Underwood, who is currently at Illinois, Bain's career has consisted of a handful of injuries and modest to average production.

In 30 starts last season, he averaged 5.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. As a sophomore the year before, he averaged just 2 points and fewer than a rebound per contest.

An extremely athletic player who came to SFA as a great jumper and dunker, Bain was also considered raw and without a dependable jump shot.

But the game-winning layup against Duke not only put SFA at the conversation of dinner tables for Thanksgiving, it also pulled at the heart strings of fans learned about the challenges of Bain's family and home country.

Hurricane Dorian made a direct hit on the Bahamas in the summer while being called the country's worst-ever natural disaster.

"My family lost a lot this year," Bain said after the game. "I'm just playing this game for them, my family back home in the Bahamas. I just want to make my country proud."

A GoFundMe page for Bain's family that had raised close to $2,000 before the game had swelled to $125,000 by Thursday

Bain's father is a minister. His church, which has a school attached to it, suffered considerable damage.

"We just want to make sure we get the people around us taken care of at the church, at the school," Bain told the Associated Press. "That's really our main focus, to make sure everyone has a place to worship and to make sure the school is taken care of so these kids can get a proper education."

SFA is enduring other challenges, including those by the coaching staff.

Assistant coach Wade Mason, a former Tyler Junior College player, is serving as an inspiration for the program while continuing to coach while battling liver cancer.

Fourth-year head coach Kyle Keller, who served as an assistant and head coach at TJC early in his career, lost his mother during the summer.

And while the win over Duke was monumental for SFA's program and will be discussed in college basketball circles for a long time, it will not get the Lumberjacks to the NCAA Tournament or in the winner's circle of the Southland.

Picked fourth in the preseason, the Lumberjacks were considered to be restructuring during this campaign after last season's disappointment of finishing 14-16 and missing the league's post-season tournament.

SFA is 5-1 in the early going of the season with the lone loss coming to Rutgers.

Senior Kevon Harris, a Southland Conference Player of the Year candidate, paced SFA with 26 points against Duke. Other veterans scoring were Bain with 11 and John Comeaux with five.

The Lumberjacks feature 12 newcomers, including Cameron Johnson, a former TJC player. He paced SFA's first-year players with 16 points against Duke

Gavin Kensmil, a 6-7 junior who has had previous stints at Navarro JC and Division I Iona, had 16 points and seven rebounds.

SFA returns to the court at 4 p.m. Saturday against Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

The team's next home game is at 6:30 p.m. Monday against Arlington Baptist at William R. Johnson Coliseum.


Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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