by Alex Poletti
Photo by USA Today Sports
If on any other day, someone told you that a group of lumberjacks surprised everyone on Duke’s court, you’d probably wonder how the hell that person got into your apartment and call security. Today, however, that group of Lumberjacks is Stephen F. Austin University, who upset the Blue Devils in overtime to hand Duke its first non-conference loss at home since 2000. This was an incredible showing for the Blue Devils, who proved they could still play down to a lower caliber of competition without Cam Reddish, R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson.
“People were wondering if we’d be able to repeat last year’s failure without the big three,” Duke coach and guy who didn’t understand that you’re allowed to have vowels in your last name Mike Krzyzewski says. “Last year we got upset in the elite 8. I didn’t think we’d be able to continue that momentum without the star power, but here we are.”
Always a hotbed for basketball talent, Duke had one of the best recruiting classes in history in 2018, signing Williamson, Reddish, Barrett and Tre Jones, the first three of whom were all taken in the top 10 of the NBA draft this summer. Despite their immense talent, they couldn’t bring the championship back to Duke, getting knocked out by Michigan State before the Final Four.
This year, the upset loss came much sooner, and at the hands of Stephen F. Austin, who surprised the nation by being a basketball team instead of the most common name on the sex offender registry. The Lumberjacks fought hard to tie the game in the second, then outscored the 2015 NCAA champs in overtime 4-2.
“I returned to Duke for a reason,” Jones, a captain for the squad, says. “And that reason is that the feeling of crushing disappointment is an unmatchable high. I could try to replicate it in the NBA, but the euphoria of a loss like this in college is like nothing else. I thought I’d have to wait until March for this, honestly.”
It’s difficult to say what this means for the legacy of Duke University’s basketball program. They entered the game atop the AP Top 25, and at this moment still hold their place; however, it’s believable to think that such a loss will oust them. The Second String reports that this loss may also trigger the school president to revoke a royal title of two.
“We no longer deserve the title of Duke,” president Vincent Price says. “We will now be Baron University until we can prove ourselves again.”