Paradise Island, Bahamas – Mason Plumlee scored a game-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds, as No. 5 Duke held off VCU, 67-58, in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday.
Seth Curry added 15 points, Rasheed Sulaimon had 12 and Ryan Kelly poured in 11 for the Blue Devils (5-0), who have won their first five games for the sixth straight season.
"They're really good, not good, really good," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said about VCU. "They play tough defense full court and in the halfcourt."
Juvonte Reddic paced VCU (3-2) with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Treveon Graham also netted 16 points as the Rams had their two-game win streak snapped.
"It was a great game by Duke. They were the better team," VCU coach Shaka Smart said. "I give our guys a lot of credit. Our guys fought and never gave up, but obviously didn't play well enough to win."
Duke will now play Louisville in the championship game on Saturday, while VCU will face Missouri in the third-place game.
After VCU opened the game with an 8-3 run in the first two-plus minutes, Plumlee and Kelly scored consecutive baskets to close Duke's gap to a point.
The Rams managed to regain some cushion with a Troy Daniels 3-pointer followed by a Graham layup, but Duke answered with a 14-2 spurt to take a 21-15 advantage with less than seven minutes left in the first half.
VCU responded with a 13-6 run capped by Darius Theus' shot from beyond the arc to retake a 28-27 lead before Quinn Cook converted a layup in the closing seconds to give Duke a 29-28 edge at the break.
The Blue Devils then held that lead throughout the entire second half, pulling ahead by double digits with an early 9-0 push to go on top, 44-32, less than five minutes into the frame.
VCU would not go quietly, though, battling back with an 9-4 swing a little later to get back within 54-50 with about nine minutes left in the game.
But the Rams would get no closer than that for the remainder of the contest as they squandered several opportunities to make it a one-possession game by shooting 8-for-15 from the foul line over the final 20 minutes.
The all-time series between the teams is now tied, 1-1 ... Duke has won 22 straight regular-season tournament games ... The Blue Devils improved to 83-29 all time against opponents from the Atlantic 10 ... VCU shot 12-for-19 from the foul line in the game, while Duke connected on 24-of-27 foul shots.