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Duke fights off challenge at NCAA Tournament

Mason Plumlee and Duke were too much for Albany.

Elsa/Getty Images

Mason Plumlee and Duke were too much for Albany.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Seth Curry scored 26 points, Mason Plumlee had 23 and second-seeded Duke beat Albany 73-61 on Friday in the second round of the Midwest Regional.

The Blue Devils (28-5) will meet the winner of the game between seventh-seeded Creighton and 10th-seeded Cincinnati in the third round Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Duke shot 58.7 percent (27 of 46), just off its season-beat 60.8 percent against Florida State.

The Blue Devils, who lost 75-70 to 15th-seeded Lehigh in the second round last year, never really pulled away from the Great Danes (24-11), who got as close as eight points with 4:40 to play.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski extended his all-time lead with his 80th career victory in the tournament that he has won four times.

Jacob Iati had 15 points for Albany, which was making its third NCAA appearance, all since 2006 and all losses.

Duke went inside and out to make sure there wasn’t a repeat of last season. It was in the same round — and with the same seeding — that Duke was shocked by Lehigh in 2012.

This may not have been a blowout, but the Blue Devils held a comfortable lead throughout. Curry shot 10 of 14, and Plumlee was 9 of 11 — including six dunks.

Quinn Cook had 11 assists — many on lob passes inside to Plumlee.

Peter Hooley had 13 points and Sam Rowley and Mike Black added 10 each for Albany, which also lost its first NCAA game in this building. The Great Danes fell to top-seeded Connecticut after leading by 12 points in the second half.

Ryan Kelly had eight points for Duke, and the Blue Devils are 19-1 with the 6-foot-11 forward in the lineup this season. He missed 13 games with a right foot injury.

This was the fourth time in five games in March that Duke shot better than 50 percent from the field; the only one below that mark was a 41.5 percent effort in the loss to Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals.

Duke had a great start to both halves, and that was enough to hold off Albany, which knew it was in for a tough night because of last year’s loss. As Albany coach Will Brown said Thursday, ‘‘Lehigh didn’t do us any favors.’’

A dunk by Plumlee on yet another assist by Cook and two free throws by Curry gave the Blue Devils their biggest lead of the game, 54-38 with 12:17 to play.

The crowd at the Wells Fargo Center started the murmur that usually accompanies a blowout, but the Great Danes — the champions of the America East Conference — didn’t pick up on that.

A 3-pointer by Hooley brought them within 62-52 with 6:11 to go. Two free throws by Iati made it 64-56 with 4:40 left.

That was as close as the Great Danes would get as Curry scored on a drive when he picked up a loose ball and then hit a baseline jumper to give the Blue Devils a 68-56 lead with 3:11 to play.

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