Duke fights off Albany
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Seth Curry scored 26 points and Mason Plumlee contributed 23 with eight rebounds, as Duke fended off a scrappy Albany squad with a 73-61 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Ryan Kelly added eight points and six boards for Duke (28-5), which is making its 18th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Devils, seeded second in the Midwest Region, will play Creighton in the third round Sunday.
Last year's tourney run was a short one for the Blue Devils, who lost their opener as a No. 2 seed to Patriot League champ Lehigh. There was no big upset this year, although the America East champs did manage to make it interesting.
The Great Danes trailed by as many as 16 in the second half, but were within 64-56 and nearly had a chance to trim the deficit further after Duke's Quinn Cook missed a jumper with just over four minutes to play. However, Albany could not come up with the rebound and Curry found the loose ball in the lane with a clear trip to the basket for a layup that restored a 10-point margin.
Kelly then came up with a steal that led to a Curry jumper and Albany didn't get closer than nine from there.
"It's a good, tough win for us," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who earned his 80th NCAA Tournament win. "Albany played like a team that just won a championship and had 24 wins."
Jacob Iati scored 15 points and Peter Hooley added 13 with eight rebounds and five assists for Albany (24-11), which was making its third NCAA Tournament appearance and first since back-to-back trips in 2006 and 2007.
"Very proud of my guys," said Albany coach Will Brown. "We really competed. They believed all week long that we were going to win this game, and we prepared the way we always prepare. We played with great toughness, great resiliency, like we have all year long, and I'm very happy for our university, very happy for our athletic department and our program."
The Great Danes gave a top-seeded Connecticut team fits in a 2006 NCAA opener, holding a late lead before dropping a 72-59 decision. Another matchup with a perennial tournament power didn't faze Albany, although the Blue Devils were never in serious trouble on Friday.
Curry hit a three to start the game and Duke never trailed. Sam Rowley's layup just under five minutes into the first half pulled Albany within 10-7, but triples by Tyler Thornton and Rasheed Sulaimon fueled a 10-2 run that gave the Blue Devils a 20-9 advantage.
The Duke lead reached 13 with four minutes to play in the half before Albany fought back with the next eight. Mike Black's three with 1:54 remaining made it 31-26, but Sulaimon drained four from the stripe to send the Blue Devils to the break with a nine-point margin.
After a Rowley layup to start the second half, Duke slowly opened its lead again and two free throws by Curry with 12:17 remaining gave the Blue Devils a 54-38 cushion.
Curry and Plumlee combined for 19 of Duke's 27 made field goals.
"These two guys really came through for us," Krzyzewski said about Curry and Plumlee. "We got in a little bit of foul trouble in the first half, and we had that 13-point lead, and we made a couple mistakes, and they took advantage of it and got it down to five, and I thought we ended the half well."
Black and Rowley each finished with 10 points for Albany, which shot 9-of-15 from 3-point range and made 14-of-16 free throws... Duke connected on 4-of-11 from beyond the arc and shot 58.7 percent overall ... Cook dished out 11 assists ... Duke is one win shy of 2,000 in program history ... The Blue Devils improved to 5-0 in NCAA Tournament games played in Philadelphia. Both previous visits to Philly ended with national championships in 1992 and 2001 ... Duke won the only previous meeting with Albany, 111-70, on Dec. 17, 2007 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
03/22 17:20:46 ET