As the college basketball world reeled in disbelief when an upstart mid-major team from East Texas upset Duke’s top-rated Blue Devils 85-83 in overtime last week, some folks in Meeteetse were …
As the college basketball world reeled in disbelief when an upstart mid-major team from East Texas upset Duke’s top-rated Blue Devils 85-83 in overtime last week, some folks in Meeteetse were flashing proud grins.
Followers of the basketball coaching career of former Meeteetse Longhorn Jeremy (Bergie) Cox know that he is in his fourth year as the assistant head coach at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoche, Texas. SFA’s head coach is Kyle Keller.
Stephen F. Austin hangs its hat on defense, and shocked fans at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium felt the sting of it Nov. 26. A mid-court steal with six seconds left in overtime led to the winning break-away layup that turned college basketball on its head.
It was Duke’s first non-conference basketball loss at home in 19 years.
Cox helps oversee the ball-hawking SFA defense that did in Duke. A year ago, the Lumberjacks of SFA registered 360 total steals, averaging 10.8 steals per game, while forcing opponents into 19.7 turnovers per game.
Contacted Friday, as SAF was on its way to a game at Arkansas State, Cox was still replaying the amazing win in his mind.
“We’re a blue collar, overachieving team, and that is exactly what put us in position to make three tough plays in the last 15 seconds to win the game,” he said. “It’s extraordinary for any non-ACC team, not only to beat Duke, but to do it in Cameron, and with them ranked No. 1 in the country, it made it even more special.”
Cox called the game-winning steal and layup by Nate Bain from Freeport, Bahamas “truly incredible.”
“He is one of the greatest kids in the world and has become a national hero, raising over $100,000 for Bahama hurricane relief on his GoFundMe page since making the play,” Cox added.
The win at Duke quickly vaulted into a “Top Five” place in games Cox has been associated with in his basketball career, he said.
He ticked off the other four as: the 1987 state championship game as a Meeteetse High School player; the 2006 NJCAA national championship game as the head coach at UA-Fort Smith; the 2007 Texas A&M win at Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse; and the 2007 Texas A&M win over Louisville in Rupp Arena to advance to the “Sweet 16.”
Now in his 28th year of coaching college basketball, Cox was the National Junior College Athletic Association coach of the year in 2006 when he led the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith to the NJCAA national title. He had a 224-68 record in nine seasons in the junior college ranks. Cox’s most recent stint as a junior college coach was one year at the reins of College of Southern Idaho in 2013-14, finishing with a 27-5 record and runner-up in the Region 18 tournament. For his efforts, Cox was voted coach of the year in Region 18.
He has coached at 14 different institutions in 28 years, including Texas A&M, Kentucky, South Florida, Nebraska, Texas Tech and Southern Mississippi prior to Stephen F. Austin.
Cox played for the Sheridan College Generals and then Mesa State College — now Colorado Mesa University — before graduating in 1991. His first coaching assignment was as a graduate assistant for Benny Dees at the University of Wyoming in 1991-92.
He is married to the former Cindy Turnell of Meeteetse, daughter of Lili Turnell and the late Jack Turnell. He goes by Jeremy in the coaching world, but says he will always be Bergie “to my family and friends, and, of course, in Wyoming.”