DURHAM, N.C. – Seth Curry scored 21 of his season-high 26 points in the second half, and No. 5 Duke rallied from 20 points down with 11:33 to play and beat North Carolina State 78-73 on Thursday night.
Freshman Austin Rivers added 16 points on 4-of-13 shooting for the Blue Devils (22-4, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). They used late rallies of 13-0 and 20-3 to erase that huge deficit and keep pace with No. 8 North Carolina and No. 20 Florida State atop the league standings.
Lorenzo Brown scored 19 points to lead the Wolfpack (18-8, 7-4), who trailed 76-73 with the ball in the final seconds with a chance to force overtime.
But Brown missed a contested 3-pointer from the corner with about 7 seconds left, and Curry hit two free throws with 2.2 seconds to go to seal N.C. State's 14th straight loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Alex Johnson scored a season-high 13 points, C.J. Leslie added 12 and Scott Wood had 10 for N.C. State, which led 61-41 on Brown's free throw with 11:33 left.
Then, the Blue Devils finally showed some life.
They started the comeback by reeling off 11 straight points, with Curry hitting three free throws and Andre Dawkins knocking down a 3-pointer. Curry's jumper with 8:44 left made it 61-52 — the first time Duke was within single digits since midway through the first half.
After DeShawn Painter put N.C. State up 68-56 with 6:10 left, the Blue Devils came up with their final surge.
Rivers started it with a 3-pointer and scored nine points during the burst. His deep 3-pointer with 2½ minutes left gave Duke its first lead, 72-71.
Mason Plumlee added 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who denied the Wolfpack their first victory at Cameron since 1995 — when Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski was out following back surgery. N.C. State hasn't beaten a Krzyzewski-coached team in Durham since 1988.
Things don't get much easier for the Wolfpack, who play host to the Seminoles on Saturday and the Tar Heels next Tuesday.
N.C. State seemed headed for its first big win under first-year coach Mark Gottfried after its impressive start. The Wolfpack were simply dominant in the first half, leading by double figures for most of the way after forcing Duke into some uncharacteristically cold shooting early.
The Blue Devils missed 11 of their first 12 shots and came up empty on their first nine 3-point attempts, while the Wolfpack raced out to a big early lead and spent the rest of the half maintaining it.
Wood's free throw with 1:53 left stretched the to 19 points, and Brown's dunk over Ryan Kelly with 14 seconds left made it 46-30. Only Ohio State (47) had more points at halftime against Duke.