Winston-Salem, NC (Sports Network) - Mason Plumlee scored a career-best 32 points, grabbed nine rebounds and steered fifth-ranked Duke away from an upset bid and past Wake Forest, 75-70, at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Wake Forest focused on stopping Duke's dynamic perimeter game, leaving Plumlee to work one-on-one, many times against smaller defenders. He took advantage with a 12-of-15 effort from the floor to go along with a pair of blocks. Seth Curry added 21 points and Quinn Cook donated 12 for the Blue Devils (18-2, 5-2 ACC), who made just 2-of-14 threes one game after connecting on 11 against Maryland.
"We did enough good things to beat a really good basketball team tonight," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Mason was big tonight with his presence, and obviously, 32 points."
Devin Thomas led Wake Forest (10-10, 3-5) with 15 points and six rebounds, while C.J. Harris and Travis McKie each added 14 points. The Demon Deacons nearly pulled off the upset just over a week after downing North Carolina State in the same building.
"He was making everything today," Thomas admitted of Plumlee. "He just got all the moves that you would want as a big man."
Duke scored the first six points out of the locker room, but in a quickly- developing theme, Wake Forest didn't wilt, fighting back to finally draw even at 58-58 on a pair of Arnaud Adala-Moto free throws. Harris' jumper just before the 8-minute mark gave the Demon Deacons their first lead of the half, but three Curry free throws and a Cook reverse layup in transition gave the Blue Devils the lead back.
Wake Forest again knotted the contest at 63-63 before Cook sliced his way through the Demon Deacons defense with a difficult lay-in. Tyler Cavanaugh answered with a traditional 3-point play, giving Wake a 66-65 lead just before the 4-minute mark. Plumlee's free throw, his first point since 12:26 left in the game, tied the contest with 3 1/2 minutes to go.
Curry then drained a three from above the top of the circle, the first trey of the second half for either team in 12 attempts, to give the Blue Devils a 69-66 lead. Madison Jones converted a layup, but Plumlee responded by absorbing contact and finishing off the glass to maintain the edge, 71-68.
After an empty possession for the Deacons, freshman Rasheed Sulaimon created space and drained a 17-footer for a 73-68 lead with 27.6 seconds left. That bucket gave Duke the breathing room it needed to hold on for the victory.
Wake Forest stood toe-to-toe with the Blue Devils in the first half, scoring five of the game's first seven points and taking and receiving blows in a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes.
Thomas' 3-point play opened a 10-6 edge and three Harris' free throws gave the home team a 25-20 edge with just under 9 1/2 minutes left in the half. Duke took the lead at 29-28 on Tyler Thornton's jumper, but Wake went back in front at 34-33 on Aaron Rountree's slam.
Harris' jumper with 17 ticks to go capped a fitting stalemate over the first half, as the teams went to the locker room tied at 40-40. Harris scored 10 points for Wake Forest, which made 54 percent of its shots, while Plumlee rolled to 19 points and five rebounds as Duke made a scorching 54.8 percent of its attempts.
Duke made 51.9 percent of its shots, while Wake Forest connected on 48.1 percent of its attempts ... Plumlee was charged with seven turnovers ... Duke has downed Wake Forest seven straight times and leads the all-time series, 162-77 ... Curry and Plumlee combined for 24 of Duke's 35 second-half points.