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But those at the Montpelier gathering almost missed the best part.

The game wasn’t a minute old when one of the fellows who’d set up the jumbo TV told a reporter asking how big the thing was said, “It doesn’t like heat.”

He is believed to have been referring to the sunny, 70-degree day, not the hot-shooting Dukies, who early on splashed in 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

But after a half, Mercer trailed by just a point, 35-34.

At the break, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski knew his team was in a battle. He told a television reporter that the senior-laden Mercer squad is “a really good basketball team.”

“They’re men,” he said.

And in the second half they went to work.

A fan from Houston County named Chris Fesmire, watching there in the throng on Montpelier, noticed that the TV was mounted on a forklift 15 or so feet off the ground.

It was a sight that’d make an engineering-school grad smile. A country boy, too.

“Makes me feel like I’m back home in Kathleen,” Fesmire said.

Next to him, fan Homer Nelson, a retired ophthalmologist and 1955 Mercer grad, soaked in the scene.

Remember now, there was a TV on a forklift and there were lawn chairs set up facing it in the middle of street. Nelson was sitting in one.

“This, to me, shows what Mercer can mean to Macon and Bibb County,” he said. “It makes you proud.”

Nearby, women from a local law office were on their lunch break. Asked if they’d watch the second half back at work, a legal assistant whispered, “We can’t disclose that.”

As the second half unfolded, the scene morphed from family picnic to high church.

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