Seth Curry scored 23 points and No. 9 Duke held off a comeback by No. 3 Kentucky, beating the defending national champions 75-68 in Atlanta.
ATLANTA — Seth Curry scored 23 points and No. 9 Duke held off a furious comeback by third-ranked Kentucky, beating the defending national champions 75-68 Tuesday night in the first matchup between the storied programs since 2001.
Duke (2-0) appeared to be in control, even with Mason Plumlee on the bench in foul trouble. The Blue Devils made a 13-3 run, capped by Rasheed Sulaimon’s three-pointer that made the score 58-44 with 9 ½ minutes left.
But Kentucky (1-1) wasn’t done, rallying like a champion even though this is essentially a new team in Wildcats coach John Calipari’s one-and-done system.
Kentucky outscored Duke 17-6 over the next six minutes and had a chance to tie the score.
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Julius Mays missed a three-point attempt with the Blue Devils clinging to a 64-61 lead.
Curry made sure youthful Kentucky didn’t get closer. He schooled freshman guard Archie Goodwin on a drive — using a pump fake to get past the Wildcat — and made two free throws that put Duke ahead 66-61 with 2:04 remaining.
“Veterans and talent,” Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said of his team. “Now, I wouldn’t mind having some of their guys. And I’m sure they would like to have some of our guys.”
Alex Poythress led Kentucky with 20 points, while Nerlens Noel and Goodwin added 16 apiece. All are freshmen on a team that has room to grow before NCAA tournament time.
“This was a big game for these guys,” Calipari said. “They were in Vegas playing AAU ball four months ago.”
The more experienced Blue Devils showed a bit more poise down the stretch. Especially Curry, a senior guard.
He blew past Goodwin for a layup that increased Duke’s lead to 68-63 with 1:13 left.
Plumlee fouled out after scoring 18 points in 29 minutes.
Other Top 10 games
At No. 5 Michigan 77, Cleveland St. 47
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points and the Wolverines (3-0) advanced to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off by beating the Vikings (2-1).
Michigan, which led 42-14 at halftime, has won each of its games by at least 30 points.
No. 21 Michigan St. 67,
No. 7 Kansas 64
Keith Appling scored 19 points, including a couple of huge baskets down the stretch, to lead the Spartans (1-1) past the Jayhawks (1-1) in Atlanta.
Michigan State trailed by five points with five minutes left, but rallied. Appling made a three-point basket for a 65-61 lead with 1:35 left and scored on an acrobatic drive to close out scoring with 13.5 seconds left.
At No. 13 UCLA 80,
UC Irvine 79 (OT)
Larry Drew II’s layup with 17 seconds left in overtime closed out scoring as the Bruins (2-0) edged the Anteaters (1-1).
Freshman Jordan Adams scored 26 points, making all 16 of his free throws, for UCLA. He had six points in overtime.
UC Irvine’s Will Davis II missed two free throws with the score tied and two seconds left in regulation.
At California 79, Pepperdine 62
Allen Crabbe scored 24 of his career-high 33 points in the second half to help the Bears (2-0) beat the Waves (0-2). Justin Cobbs added 23 points for Cal.
At USC 62,
Long Beach St. 44
Eric Wise contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Trojans (2-0) beat the 49ers (1-1).
USC went on a 23-4 run after Long Beach State tied the score at 35 early in the second half.