Duke gets by Great Danes
It wasn’t pretty, but No. 2-seed Duke (28-5) dispatched its No. 15-seed opponent Albany (24-11) by a score of 73-61, marking Duke’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2011 and its first tournament win outside of North Carolina since it won the 2010 national title.
Seth Curry led Duke with 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting and he was absolutely lethal down the stretch.
Duke shot 58.7 percent from the floor but the Blue Devils had to play at Albany’s methodical pace. The Blue Devils could never quite pull away; their biggest lead was 16 points at the 12:17 mark.
It looked like Albany had the ball with a chance to score after it had cut the Duke lead to eight points. Quinn Cook missed, and went for the rebound but in a scramble for it, Curry picked it up and laid it in to put Duke back up 10 at the 4:01 mark.
“I think a few times throughout the game there were some loose balls and they came up with them, knocked down some threes. In close games, especially in the tournament, those are the type of things that win or lose you games,” Curry said. “I was trying to be alert on the offensive glass, someone tipped it and was just trying to get to it first.”
Albany shot just 36.5 percent for the game, but the Great Danes made 9-of-15 three-pointers, many of which came during their late run that cut the Duke lead into single digits. The Blue Devils had some shaky moments but they always had an answer.
“You’ve just got to keep your cool. When teams get behind, they aren’t going to just keep doing the same thing that got them behind in the first place," Curry said. "They’re going to make adjustments, and you have to be ready for them. I think late-game situations we’ve had success in over our careers and then this team has this year. We definitely have experience.”
Other than Curry and Plumlee, no other Blue Devils were in double figures. Point guard Quinn Cook had 11 assists, which were the second-most for a Duke player in the NCAA Tournament.
Albany was led by Jacob Iati with 15 points, followed by Peter Hooley with 13 points)and Mike Black with 10.
Duke dominated the paint, scoring 36 of its 73 points there, and hit 4-of-11 threes. Albany might have been hot from beyond the arc, but the Great Danes hit just 10-of-37 two-point tries.
Albany head coach Will Brown was effusive in his praise of the Blue Devils, saying he believed they were the best team in the country with a healthy Ryan Kelly. If there’s any problem for Duke, though, it’s that Kelly is not playing well lately.
Since his 36-point outburst in his first game back from injury against Miami, Kelly has a total of 42 points in the last four games since on 14-of-35 shooting (2-of-16 from three).
Duke will face No. 7 seed Creighton (28-7) on Sunday in the third round. Creighton defeated Cincinnati 67-63 in Friday’s round of 64 game.