Plumlee powers Duke to road win at Wake Forest

The SportsXchange

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Duke's Mason Plumlee liked the fact that the team's first road victory came with a tussle.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski simply liked the result Wednesday night against Wake Forest.

Seth Curry hit a go-ahead 3-point basket with less than three minutes to play, and the fifth-ranked Blue Devils held on to edge Wake Forest 75-70 Wednesday night at Joel Coliseum.

"Having guys who have been in late-game situations helps," said Plumlee, a senior forward who scored a career-high 32 points. "I liked that it's winning a close game on the road to show we're together."

Curry ended up with 21 points, allowing Duke to collect its first victory in three true road outings this season.

"It's good to win," Krzyzewski said. "We should not qualify winning. ... We're fortunate to win. We earned it. If they had won, they would have earned it."

Duke (18-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored 10 of the game's final 14 points. The Blue Devils shot 51.9 percent (28 of 54) from the field.

Wake Forest, which was coming off a blowout loss at last-place Georgia Tech, received 15 points from Devin Thomas and 14 apiece from Travis McKie and C.J. Harris. The Demon Deacons (10-10, 3-5) lost for the first time in four ACC home games.

Curry's 3-point basket at the 2:59 mark broke a 66-66 tie, but Madison Jones' drive for a basket cut the gap to 69-68. Plumlee scored in the lane before Wake Forest's Arnaud Adala Moto missed a potential tying 3-pointer with one minute left.

"He was playing well and had a very good shot," Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said of Adala Moto. "Can't get a better shot than that."

Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon then hit a jumper, and Plumlee blocked Harris' layup at the other end, allowing the Blue Devils to escape.

"It was ugly," Duke guard Quinn Cook said. "You can say whatever, it was a road win."

Tyler Cavanaugh's three-point play that drew Plumlee's fourth foul sent Wake Forest back into the lead with 4:02 remaining, but the Demon Deacons managed only two more field goals.

Earlier, Duke scored the first eight points of the second half for a 48-40 edge after its largest first-half lead was three points.

"There will be runs throughout the course of a basketball game with Duke or whoever we play," Bzdelik said. "You need to be mentally tough and grind through it."

Plumlee went past his previous career high by notching his 29th point with more than 12 minutes to play.

"I was expecting it to come my way and I was lathered up," Plumlee said.

Cook added: "Every time we wanted to go to Mason. We took full advantage of it."

Plumlee eclipsed the 20-point mark barely a minute into the second half, but on the next Duke possession, he picked up his third foul. He had gone seven consecutive games without reaching 20 points.

"I got a couple of early fouls (and) I couldn't play too aggressive on him," said Thomas, the Wake Forest freshman. "He's got all the moves."

The halftime score was 40-40, with the game taking a far different tone than Duke's 80-62 romp Jan. 5 in Durham that opened the ACC schedule for both teams.

Both teams shot 54 percent in the opening half, which was the highest-scoring first half for the Demon Deacons since they put up 44 on Radford in the non-conference opener.

Plumlee scored 19 of Duke's first 36 points, but he left after picking up his second foul -- as he was posting up at the offensive end -- with 3:10 remaining in the first half.

After giving up the game's first 16 points in its most recent outing at Georgia Tech, Wake Forest surrendered the first basket before taking a 5-2 lead on Duke. The Demon Deacons built 14-8 and 20-14 edges.

Wake Forest made 10 of its first 15 shots but held only a 28-27 lead.

NOTES: Duke played its fifth consecutive game without senior forward Ryan Kelly, who's out indefinitely with a foot injury. Kelly scored a season-high 22 points in the first meeting of the season against Wake Forest, marking his fourth consecutive game in the series with 20 or more points. ... Thomas was playing his first game since being named ACC Rookie of the Week for his performances against North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. His selection marked the first weekly conference honor of the season for any Wake Forest player. ... Wednesday's game began a stretch of five road games across a seven-game span for Duke. ... Wake Forest announced prior to the game that former standout Chris Paul's No. 3 jersey would be retired during the March 2 game vs. Maryland.
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