It’s one of the most heartening and heartwarming, feel-good sports stories of the year, at least for everyone who hates Duke. Yes, this one is being celebrated by non-Duke fans everywhere. Little, lanky, Lilliputian Stephen F. Austin State University just defeated Duke 85 – 83 in overtime at Cameron Indoor Arena. Unbelievable. In other words, Stephen F. Austin (SFA) just became Cinderella personified and made a pre-Ball appearance in November, and she’s lookin’ girly good.
It’s a long ways off from the madness of March, folks.
First of all, where IS SFA anyway? I had to look it up. SFA is a public university in Nacogdoches, Texas. Yes, Nacogdoches. Seriously. It’s in East Texas. SFA was founded as a teaching school and now has 12,614 enrolled students. And now this pint sized David just beat juggernaut Goliath with a sling shot and a stone.
As sports fans, this is what we live for. This is why every sports fan should go to church every Sunday (before or after the game). And this is how the theology of sports points us to the mystery of Godliness.
Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds is what Heaven is all about. God is the God of the underdog. Our Lord came to upset the negative status quo. The King of Kings is orchestrator of all comebacks, and the Root and Offspring of David is the one who turns every pitch black and hopelessly bleak situation all the way around, for good.
Here’s how we know: Duke was favored to win by 27 points. Stephen F. Austin was not just in the game, but they outscored Duke in the paint by a mile. That doesn’t happen every day, not even when Duke plays a RANKED opponent.
After the historic game, here’s what Coach K had to say:
“They were better. Bottom line,” Krzyzewski said. “They were tougher than we were. They played with great poise. And we helped them. You can’t give up 64 points in the paint. We don’t even give up 64 points. And we gave up so many layups. You go 11-of-24 from the foul line in the second half, it’s just a recipe to lose. So we weren’t deserving of winning. That team was deserving of winning, and they won.”
If you’re wondering why this game, this upset win, is such a big deal, here’s what ESPN had to say:
“No. 1 Duke suffered its first loss of the season in stunning fashion Tuesday as the Blue Devils lost an overtime stunner at the buzzer to Stephen F. Austin, 85-83, in an absolutely wild ending at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke became the third No. 1 team to lose this in NOVEMBER, seeing its 150-game non-conference home winning streak snapped by Stephen F. Austin senior forward Nathan Bain’s coast-to-coast layup at the overtime buzzer. The Blue Devils entered the game as 27.5-point favorites, making the Lumberjacks’ win the biggest Division I upset of the past 15 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Duke took a 15-point first-half lead, but SFA — which had just lost to Rutgers and finished below .500 last season — came all the way back in the second half to take the lead in the final minutes. The game went into OT when Duke’s Cassius Stanley missed a contested midrange jumper at the buzzer.
Stephen F. Austin was able to secure a loose ball under Duke’s basket and then senior forward Nathan Bain drove the ball the length of the floor and banked in a layup just as the buzzer sounded.
It’s easily the biggest win the history of Stephen F. Austin. The team never backed down from Duke down the stretch of regulation and throughout overtime before this layup won it.” https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/28172273/duke-college-basketball-latest-no-1-casualty-stephen-f-austin-pulls-ot-stunner
And there it is: there’s the epiphany and the theophany. The revealed Truth we are to live and learn is this – in the face of a big, bad, bully, never back down. Darkness will be defeated by the light, and right will overcome might. When all hell is breaking loose, never ever give up.
Never give up. You can make it! Your dreams are your ticket out, and your dreams can come true. Just ask Nathan Bain and the Stephen F. Austin University Men’s basketball team.