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Plumlee scores 30, No. 4 Duke tops NC State 98-85
DUKE 98, NC STATE 85

By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Big leads haven't been entirely safe when
Duke and North Carolina State get together at Cameron Indoor
Stadium. So even as the Blue Devils went up by 21 points, Mason
Plumlee knew the Wolfpack would rally somehow.



"They're too good not to," Plumlee said.



And No. 4 Duke was too good to let its lead slip away.



Plumlee scored 30 points in the Blue Devils' 98-85 victory
Thursday night.



Seth Curry added 26 points and Quinn Cook had 21 for Duke (20-2,
7-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which never trailed, shot 53.8
percent from the field and had to fend off the Wolfpack's late
surge for its fourth straight win.



Richard Howell had 15 of his 23 points in the second half for
the Wolfpack (16-7, 5-5). Playing their first game this season
as an unranked team, they clawed back in it by making 12 of
their first 14 shots of the second half.



But N.C. State - the preseason favorite in the ACC - lost its
third straight and was denied its first win in Cameron Indoor
Stadium since 1995.



"We (were) getting it handed to us, but I love the way my team
fought back," Howell said.



Howell's layup with 5:16 remaining got the Wolfpack within
single digits for the first time since the opening minutes at
84-73.



Cook countered with a jumper and Howell picked up his fifth foul
on the offensive end with 3:41 left. Plumlee followed with two
free throws to make it 88-75.



N.C. State then cut it to eight on Scott Wood's 3 with 1:08 left
but Curry hit two free throws with 52 seconds left to make it
95-85 and Plumlee added a dunk to make it a 12-point game.



C.J. Leslie finished with 16 points and Wood had 14 for the
Wolfpack, whose previous four conference losses came by a total
of seven points.



Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, who missed all 10 of his shots in the
previous meeting - an 84-76 loss on Jan. 12 that knocked Duke
from No. 1 - had 11 points in this one.



Plumlee was 9 of 11 from the field and 12 of 16 from the free
throw line while finishing two points shy of the career high he
set last week at Wake Forest.



Curry finished with his third straight 20-point game this season
and second consecutive huge performance at home against the
Wolfpack.



In their last visit to Cameron, they led by 20 points with 11
1/2 minutes left before Curry took over, scoring 21 of his 26
points in the second half to key the Blue Devils' 78-73 win.



N.C. State tried to turn the tables on Duke with a hot second
half of its own, but the Wolfpack simply let the Blue Devils get
too far ahead in the opening 20 minutes.



"At halftime, that's what I was telling my team - we had them
down like this last year, and they came back and beat us,"
Howell said. "I just wanted to tell my team that to try to keep
their heads up and keep them playing in the game, because we
were definitely getting ... whupped."



Duke shot 61 percent during a 58-point first half - its
highest-scoring half of the season about which coach Mike
Krzyzewski said "I don't know if we can play any harder or
better."



The ACC's top 3-point-shooting team hit all 10 in the first half
- four each by Cook and Curry - and nearly matched its previous
season high for a full game, 12, set two months ago against
Temple.



"We got good looks, and we had a lot of energy defensively, and
that translates to the offensive end," Curry said. "We came out
motivated and with a lot of energy, and that showed."



At the other end, N.C. State - which shoots an ACC-best 50
percent - couldn't get anything to fall early and fell way
behind. Lewis started 2 of 4, but the rest of his teammates
combined to miss their first 11 shots.



"I thought we got some good shots early. We just couldn't make
them," coach Mark Gottfried said. "And at the same time we
seemed to be struggling, they were on fire."



Cook gave Duke its first 20-point lead when his 3 at the
7-minute mark made it 41-21. Curry's jumper with about 30
seconds left gave the Blue Devils their largest lead, 58-37 at
halftime.



Tyler Lewis scored 13 points in place of injured point guard
Lorenzo Brown and fellow freshman T.J. Warren had 12 for N.C.
State.



A run of injuries left the teams with only a combined 15
available scholarship players.



Brown sat out his second straight game with a sprained left
ankle. Duke played without both power forward Ryan Kelly and one
of his replacements. Josh Hairston joined him on the bench, out
with an infected arm.



"For two teams that have key players out, what a performance by
both teams," Krzyzewski said. "That was ACC basketball tonight."

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