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Duke edges Ohio State for third win over a top-5 foe

The SportsXchange

DURHAM, N.C. -- The season keeps getting better for Duke -- and it's not even December yet.

The second-ranked Blue Devils racked up their third victory against a top-five opponent Wednesday night, defeating No. 4 Ohio State 73-68 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

"The way we responded to come back from the Bahamas (where Duke won three games in three days last week), we wanted to keep it going," senior forward Mason Plumlee said of the Blue Devils adding another check mark to their early successes.

The start has been impressive for Duke (7-0). The credentials grew because of the finishing touch they displayed against Ohio State at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"It'll be hard to find anybody that's been through a stretch like this," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I knew my team was together, and through accomplishment, they've gotten more together."

Duke previously topped then-No. 3 Kentucky and then-No. 2 Louisville. The game against the Buckeyes (4-1) was the first of the high-octane clashes that was played at Cameron.

The Blue Devils overcame a 10-point, first-half deficit and then snatched the lead with less than six minutes to play and didn't let go.

Duke won its 97th consecutive non-conference home game, the longest active streak in the country.

Ryan Kelly, who dealt with first-half foul trouble, hit consecutive second-half 3-pointers, the second propelling the Blue Devils into the lead with 5:42 to go.

Plumlee scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon poured in all 17 of his points in the second half. Kelly finished with 15 points before fouling out with less than 30 seconds left.

Deshaun Thomas scored 16 points for Ohio State. Aaron Craft, who also fouled out, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 11 points each for the Buckeyes.

Plumlee was a force both in the lane and in transition.

"He's so big and athletic," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said, adding that Plumlee's versatility makes him difficult to defend. "It's hard to say, 'He's going to do this,' when he catches it."

Duke came out strong after halftime, pulling within 37-34 early in the second half. Guard Seth Curry didn't have a field goal until less than 10 minutes remained. The Blue Devils had a chance to tie on their next possession and failed.

Still, Duke climbed within 51-50 on Sulaimon's 3-pointer. Evan Ravenel's basket for Ohio State was followed by Kelly's tying 3-point basket.

Kelly's next 3-pointer put Duke ahead for the first time since the opening minutes.

The Blue Devils pushed their lead beyond four points for the first time at 62-57 with 1:40 to play after guard Quinn Cook scored on a nifty move. They extended it when Sulaimon scored on a fastbreak, as Ohio State was called for goaltending.

"The kid at halftime said, 'All right, I've got to do something," Krzyzewski said of Sulaimon. "For a freshman to respond that way is superb. It just doesn't happen very often."

Cook ended up with 12 points, half of them coming on free throws in the final 28 seconds.

Thomas posted eight of Ohio State's first 18 points as the Buckeyes built an 18-11 lead on the way a brief 10-point advantage. Thomas went to the bench with two fouls, but Ohio State stood firm during his absence and carried a 31-23 edge into halftime.

"They were being more physical than we were," Krzyzewski said. "We weren't adjusting to the game."

The Blue Devils shot 10-for-12 on free throws in the first half to stay within range.

The Buckeyes did much of their good work on the defensive end. At one point late in the first half, Ohio State had taken 30 shots from the field compared to 14 for Duke.

The Blue Devils improved to 7-0 for the third season in a row. Duke's only November loss in its last 57 outings came last year at Ohio State, 85-63.

"Coach said that if revenge is our only motivation, then we're going to be a terrible team because we're going to have to lose to everybody to win one," Plumlee said.

NOTES: Duke has the best record of any team in either conference in ACC/Big Ten Challenge games at 12-2. The Blue Devils are 5-0 at home in those games. ... Ohio State is 5-6 in the challenge series, with a four-game winning streak in the event ending Wednesday. ... This was Ohio State's first appearance in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The teams' previous six meetings, which were split 3-3, included four games on neutral courts and two in Columbus, Ohio. ... Ohio State's next eight games are at home.
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