DURHAM, N.C. — Seth Curry scored 16 points and No. 6 Duke held off Belmont 77-76 on Friday night in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational to move coach Mike Krzyzewski within one victory of tying Bob Knight atop the Division I men's career list.
Austin Rivers added 16 points in his college debut for the Blue Devils (1-0). They shot 43 percent, hit nine 3-pointers and overcame 19 turnovers to avoid their first nonconference home loss since 2000 and put their Hall of Fame coach one step closer to history.
Krzyzewski started his 37th season as a head coach by improving his record to 901-284. He can tie his college coach and mentor's record Saturday when Duke plays host to Presbyterian.
Kerron Johnson scored 15 points for Belmont (0-1), which shot 47 percent and fell to 0-3 against ACC opponents.
Mason Plumlee had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Duke, which extended a few winning streaks at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won their NCAA-best 36th straight home game, their 29th straight home opener and their 87th in a row at home against nonconference opponents.
But this one wasn't easy for the Blue Devils.
Belmont, which returns four starters from a team that made its fourth NCAA tournament appearance since 2006, erased most of a 16-point deficit in the second half and pulled to 72-71 on Ian Clark's three-point play with 51 seconds left.
Andre Dawkins followed with a long 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left to put Duke up by four. After Johnson raced down court for a layup with 9.5 seconds left to make it 75-73, Ryan Kelly followed with two free throws with 7.1 seconds left to restore the Blue Devils' four-point lead.
Clark hit a 3 at the buzzer.
The latest close call against Belmont kept Krzyzewski on track to break Knight's mark next Tuesday night against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden.
None of the current players were around when the teams met in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament — when No. 2 seed Duke needed a basket from Gerald Henderson with 11.9 seconds left to beat the 15th-seeded Bruins 71-70 and dodge one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.1 comment on this story
This Duke team looked at times like a work in progress as it learned to play without three key players who combined for more than half of the team's points last season: Point guard Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and four-year stars Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Without them, these Blue Devils — whose lone senior is forward Miles Plumlee — looked like the young team they are.
Yet they also showed flashes of potential — such as the 12-0 run early in the second half that gave them their biggest lead. Curry, Rivers and Tyler Thornton each hit 3s during the burst, with Thornton's making it 53-37 with about 14½ minutes left.
Kelly finished with 12 points and Thornton added 10.
Clark had 13 points, Drew Hanlen and JJ Mann each scored 12 and Mick Hedgepeth added 11 for Belmont.