PROVIDENCE, R.I./RALEIGH, N.C. — Marshall Plumlee ditched the mask guarding his broken nose and responded by scoring a career-high 23 points to lead defending national champion Duke past UNC Wilmington 93-85 on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Plumlee had 10 of his points and two blocks as the Blue Devils stepped up the defensive pressure early in the second half to build a lead after trailing at the break.
Duke (24-10), seeded fourth in the West, will next play Yale or Baylor. UNCW (25-8), seeded 13th, was in it until the closing moments after Plumlee and Matt Jones fouled out.
Grayson Allen also scored 23 points for the Blue Devils, but 15 came from the foul line as he shot just 4 of 12 from the field. Brandon Ingram added 20.
Craig Ponder led UNCW with 22 points. Chris Flemmings had 18, Denzel Ingram 17 and C.J. Bryce 16.
For the Butler vs. Texas Tech game, Kelan Martin scored all 11 of his points in the final 8 1/2 minutes, including consecutive 3-pointers to break a tie game, to help Butler beat Texas Tech 71-61 in Thursday’s first round.
Kellen Dunham scored 23 points to lead the Bulldogs (22-10), including a critical 3 of his own with 2:26 left as the Midwest Region’s No. 9 seed finally pulled away in the final minutes. Butler shot 52 percent after halftime, using some NCAA Tournament experience to rally from an early eight-point deficit and finally push ahead midway through the second half.
Devaugntah Williams scored 18 points to lead the eighth-seeded Red Raiders (19-13), who were making their first tournament appearance since 2007. But Texas Tech made just 2 of 9 shots to close the game as Butler began to take over in the critical moments.