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Sunday May 3rd, 2015 9:00AM

Despite Bolden's season-high, Tech falls to No. 3 Duke

By The Associated Press
DURHAM, N.C. -- Georgia Tech freshman Chris Bolden nearly matched Duke's Seth Curry from the 3-point line. The problem was, he didn't get much help from anyone else.

Bolden scored 20 points - the most by a Yellow Jacket this season - but the third-ranked Blue Devils beat them 73-57 on Thursday night.

No other Georgia Tech player reached double figures, and while Bolden was 4 for 8 from beyond the arc, his teammates missed all eight of their 3-point attempts.

The Yellow Jackets (10-6, 0-4) had 21 turnovers in losing their fourth straight, remaining the only team winless in Atlantic Coast Conference play while falling to 5-32 at Cameron Indoor Stadium - where they have won just once since 1996.

"They have two of the premier players not only in the league but in the country," coach Brian Gregory said, referring to Curry and Mason Plumlee, "and we couldn't stop them in the second half."

Curry scored 24 points and matched a career high with six 3-pointers, while Plumlee finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds after going just 2 for 12 during an awful first half.

Duke (16-1, 3-1) shot 53 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes to bounce back from its only loss. It also snapped a three-game losing streak when playing without injured forward Ryan Kelly.

"The biggest thing is, we have to find a new identity because we are a different team" without Kelly, Plumlee said. "Whatever that is, we have to find it. We have to play to our strengths, and we're not the same team that was (15-0)."

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of a slump with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting after coming off the bench for the first time in his Duke career.

"It's all about how you come back," Plumlee said of Sulaimon. "I don't know of any player who started every game ever at Duke. I mean, he sat Elton Brand and those guys. We just told him it's part of the process."

He was a combined 7 for 32 in his previous four games and missed all 10 of his shots in the 84-76 loss to then-No. 20 North Carolina State that knocked the Blue Devils from No. 1.

A second straight loss looked like a real possibility until Duke produced a 27-6 run that started late in the first half, ended early in the second and swung the lead its way to stay.

Curry - who has scored at least 22 points in three of his last four games - had 11 points during the burst.

He ended his team's 5-minute field goal drought by swishing a deep 3-pointer that started the run with 2 minutes left in the half. Then, he added two more 3s shortly after halftime before his putback of a miss by Plumlee put Duke up 46-32 with just under 15 minutes to play.

That came two possessions after the signature snapshot of the night: After Plumlee got Cameron rocking with a dunk with 14 minutes left and Georgia Tech called a timeout, a fired-up coach Mike Krzyzewski charged off the bench to jump on and embrace his senior center.

"I think I've given emotion a lot during 33 years here at Duke, so I'm going to do whatever I think my team needs," Krzyzewski said. "I did that in 1980 and I should do it in 2013. So I thought that's what my team needed, and that's what I gave."

Tech cut the Duke lead to 10 points twice, the final time coming when Mfon Udofia's three-point play with 6:48 left made it 57-47. Sulaimon countered with a three-point play 39 seconds later, Curry hit another 3 and Sulaimon followed with a dunk to make it 65-49 with just under 5 minutes to go.

"One of our biggest problems is that we're not finishing games," Bolden said. "We play well and we play hard, but it's been one mistake on the offensive or defensive end that has hurt us. We're preparing well, but we're having trouble staying focused."
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