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Duke Basketball's Darkest Moments of the Decade: No's 4 and 3

The Stephen F. Austin loss and Zion's exploding shoe are next on the countdown.

A momentous home upset and an injury to a top player are the next two items on the countdown of the darkest moments of the last decade for Duke basketball.

4. Stephen F. Austin stuns the Blue Devils:

Duke was No. 1 in the nation and had won 150 straight non-conference home games, dating back to February 2000. No one expected either of those facts to change when Stephen F. Austin came to Cameron Indoor two days before Thanksgiving 2019.

SFA was the lowest-rated opponent Duke would face in the 2019-20 season, according to the KenPom statistical ratings, but the veteran, experienced Lumberjacks showed they were up to the challenge, even after Duke built a 15-point lead midway through the first half.

SFA hung around and cut the lead to five by halftime. With 8:36 left, they tied the Blue Devils. At 8:09, they took the lead. With four players saddled with four fouls, Stephen F. Austin kept attacking and at the end of regulation, both teams were tied at 81.

Each team scored once in overtime, and Duke was setting up a final shot with seconds left when freshman Matthew Hurt turned it over. Nathan Bain emerged with the ball and raced Duke senior Jack White and the clock up the court, laying it in over a leaping White just before the buzzer sounded. Improbably, SFA had an 85-83 win over Duke, and they did it while making just two three-pointers in the game.

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“They were better,” Coach K said. “Bottom line. They were tougher than we were.”

3. Zion’s shoe explodes:

It was the hottest ticket in sports. Everyone wanted to see the Zion Williamson show—LeBron had made a trip to UVA to watch the freshman star on the road. So when North Carolina came to Cameron Indoor for the biggest rivalry game in basketball, it was the must-see event of the year, if not longer. Spike Lee, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barack Obama were among the luminaries to get seats in Cameron.

They expected to see The Zion Show. Instead, they saw Gone in 34 Seconds.

The first time Williamson got the ball, he planted his foot to pivot and make a move toward the hoop. As he shifted his weight, however, his shoe ripped open, sending him sprawling to the floor. He grabbed at his leg and ended up missing the rest of the regular season with a sore knee resulting from the fall.

UNC went on to blow out Duke, 88-72, not that many people who saw Zion go down were worried about the final score.