DURHAM, N.C. — Freshman Matthew Hurt scored a season-high 20 points, Joey Baker added a career-high 16 and No. 1 Duke beat Winthrop 83-70 on Friday night to bounce back from its stunning loss to Stephen F. Austin.
Playing three nights after the unheralded Lumberjacks became the first Cameron Indoor Stadium visitor from outside the ACC to win in nearly 20 years, the Blue Devils (7-1) spent the better part of this one looking ripe for another upset before Baker — a sophomore who appeared in just four games last season — saved them.
He hit two dagger 3-pointers 30 seconds apart in the final 3 minutes to put Duke up by double figures to stay and Jordan Goldwire followed with a layup off a steal to give the Blue Devils their largest lead to that point, 78-64, with just under 2 minutes remaining.
Freshman Vernon Carey added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Tre Jones finished with 15 points for Duke.
Hunter Hale scored 11 points to lead Winthrop (4-4), which kept itself within striking distance for about 30 minutes but — unlike SFA a few nights before — just couldn’t keep up.
The Eagles trailed just 67-60 in the final 5 minutes following a 3-pointer by Hale but followed that with two empty possessions before Carey’s three-point play was followed by the back-to-back 3s by Baker.
Winthrop: The Eagles leaned on their balance in trying for their second Top 25 win of the season, after toppling then-No. 18 Saint Mary’s on Nov. 11. Eight players scored at least six points in this one. But they didn’t have the late-game counterpunches that the Lumberjacks did, and that kept them from their first win over a ranked ACC team since 2007.
Duke: The big question before game was whether the Blue Devils — given three days to fume about their historic loss to Stephen F. Austin — would show any mercy to Winthrop. Instead, they struggled to separate themselves from the Eagles until late and showed they might be more of a work in progress than their pedigree and lofty national ranking might indicate.
Winthrop: Plays at Coastal Carolina on Dec. 7.
Duke: Visits No. 3 Michigan State on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.