Duke is college basketball's latest No. 1 casualty as Stephen F. Austin pulls off OT stunner

ByJeff Borzello ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Feast Week is still a day away from kicking into high gear, when the Maui Invitational and Battle 4 Atlantis overlap. But Tuesday night had its own share of headlines -- including the biggest Division I upset of the past 15 seasons.

Dayton looked awesome again, Auburn won the Legends Classic, Arizona State beat Princeton on a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left and DePaul erased an 18-point halftime deficit at home against Central Michigan to keep its unbeaten season alive.

But we start with the aforementioned upset.

Three things from Tuesday

Duke falls at home to Stephen F. Austin on buzzer-beating layup

College basketball is madness this season.

Duke became the third No. 1 team to lose this season, seeing its 150-game nonconference 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.

With the clock winding down in overtime, Tre Jones penetrated and attempted a bounce pass to Matthew Hurt. Hurt couldn't handle it and SFA'sGavin Kensmil came out with the loose ball. He passed it to Bain at his own foul line, and Bain went the length of the court to finish the winning layup at the buzzer.

With Michigan State also losing this week, we're likely to see a new No. 1 next week -- the fourth different No. 1 already this season. Louisville was No. 2 in this week's AP poll, and the Cardinals face Western Kentucky on Friday.

While it's an amazing win for Kyle Keller and the Stephen F. Austin program, it does highlight some of the issues with Duke this season. Down the stretch of the game, the Blue Devils simply couldn't get good shots. If Jones wasn't beating his man off the dribble, the lack of consistent perimeter shooters enabled the Lumberjacks to collapse and help off their men to keep Jones out of the paint or from getting the ball to Vernon Carey Jr. inside. At the other end, Duke gave up 64 (!) points in the paint.

If it wasn't clear enough already that the top of the sport was wide open this season, Tuesday was further proof.

Anthony Edwards is good at basketball

It came in a losing effort against Michigan State, but Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards had one of the best individual performances we will see all season -- and easily the best single half we've seen in a long time. The Bulldogs went into halftime down by 21, and Edwards simply took the game over in the second half. Edwards went for 33 points (including 7 3-pointers), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals -- in 20 minutes. His final stat line: 37 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals. Georgia got as close as two points with just under five minutes left, but Michigan State pulled away in the final minute with free throws.

Edwards showed off the complete arsenal against the Spartans. He hit pull-up 3s off the dribble, both in the half court and in transition; he buried catch-and-shoot 3s off screens; he buried a turnaround jumper from the midpost; hit a midrange jumper; and also made two outstanding bounce passes in transition to teammates for easy layups.

At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, with the ability to initiate offense and handle the ball as well as consistently make shots from the perimeter, it's easy to see why Edwards is in the mix for the No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft. He was an elite recruit coming out of high school, reclassifying from 2020 to 2019 and ultimately choosing Georgia over Kentucky. Edwards has been somewhat inconsistent through his first six games in college, but on Tuesday, he showed his ceiling -- and it's awfully high.

Auburn is going to be a factor in the SEC

After the first three-plus weeks, it's fairly clear Auburn was underrated entering the season. Bruce Pearl lost Jared Harper, Bryce Brown, Chuma Okeke and Malik Dunbar from last season's Final Four team and wasn't bringing in an elite recruiting class. Seven games in, the Tigers have solid wins over Davidson, New Mexico and Richmond, beating the Spiders to win the Legends Classic on Tuesday night.

None of the three wins will count as a marquee victory, but the manner in which Auburn went out and simply overwhelmed all three teams was quite impressive. The Tigers' perimeter defense might end up being even more suffocating than last season, as they're highly athletic and have size with 6-4 Samir Doughty and 6-6 Isaac Okoro on the wings.

Athletic ability is how J'Von McCormick has been able to fill Harper's shoes despite not having the star guard's shooting ability. And the bigs have been relentlessly crashing the offensive glass, especially in Brooklyn, New York, the past two nights. Auburn had 19 offensive rebounds Monday and 18 more Tuesday; that helped overcome 17-for-57 shooting from 3-point range.

Kentucky and Florida came into the season as the favorites in the SEC, and Tennessee has looked better than expected. But Pearl's deep, versatile, athletic group is not going to fall off as much as expected.

Three things for Wednesday

The Battle 4 Atlantis begins

The premier Feast Week tournament this season is the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, an event that features four of the top 13 teams in this week's AP poll. The two favorites entering the event are probably North Carolina and Gonzaga, but Oregon is the highest-rated team in ESPN's Power Rankings and shouldn't be overlooked in this one. The Ducks will also take part in the best quarterfinal matchup Wednesday, as Dana Altman's group battles Seton Hall.

Myles Powell and the Pirates came up short in their only shot at a marquee win so far this season, a 76-73 loss to Michigan State earlier this month. This week starts a brutal stretch for Kevin Willard's team -- but it's a stretch that will give Seton Hall plenty of chances to build up its nonconference profile. On Wednesday, what will Altman have drawn up to slow down Powell, who scored 37 points against Michigan State?

Other interesting storylines Wednesday in the Bahamas include North Carolina's Cole Anthony vs. Alabama's Kira Lewis, and whether Michigan can keep its solid start going against Iowa State.

Kansas vs. Dayton in the Maui Invitational title game

It's not exactly what we all expected when the Maui Invitational bracket was first announced and Michigan State and Kansas were on opposite sides of the bracket -- and then picked No. 1 and No. 2 in many preseason rankings. Of course, Virginia Tech dashed any chance of that matchup when the Hokies took down the Spartans in the quarterfinals Monday, but with the way Dayton is playing, it would be surprising if Bill Self's Jayhawks weren't tested by the Flyers on Wednesday.

One interesting thing to watch will be what Self decides to do in the frontcourt. He has consistently gone with two bigs so far this season, starting Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack (Silvio de Sousa played a bigger role early in the season but played only four minutes off the bench Tuesday). But Dayton's frontcourt is more versatile and athletic than most teams Kansas has faced this season; the Jayhawks struggled to track Matthew Hurt in the season opener, and East Tennessee State would have been in the game if it could've hit its open 3s. At the same time, Dayton will have to handle Azubuike -- one of the most dominant big men in the country when he's on the floor.

Plus, the game is another chance to see Obi Toppin -- the Dayton star who is developing into a lottery pick this week in Maui. After going for 25 points and four rebounds against Georgia, Toppin had 24 points and eight rebounds against Virginia Tech on Tuesday. Dayton is playing as well as any team in the country, and the Flyers have a ton of momentum and confidence. Wednesday's showdown with Kansas is another chance on the big stage for Anthony Grant's program.

How good is Penn State?

Pat Chambers has entered what feels like the past four or five seasons on the hot seat, but he continues to survive in State College. And this season, with the way the Nittany Lions are playing, he might do more than just survive another year. Penn State is starting to generate a little bit of top-25 buzz, and it will enter the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn with a chance to show the nation that it's for real.

So far, the Nittany Lions have beaten Georgetown by 15, blown out Bucknell by 28 and eked out a victory over Yale last weekend. But they will get Ole Miss on Wednesday and, if they win, the winner of Syracuse and Oklahoma State on Friday. A couple of victories at Barclays Center and Chambers might have Penn State in the top 25.

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