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Blue Devils Survive a Scare

North Carolina guard Marcus Paige (5) passes the ball around UNLV guard Anthony Marshall (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. North Carolina won 79-73.  (AP Photo/JIm R. Bounds)

North Carolina guard Marcus Paige (5) passes the ball around UNLV guard Anthony Marshall (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. North Carolina won 79-73. (AP Photo/JIm R. Bounds)

Durham, n.c. — Seth Curry scored 12 of his season-high 31 points during the late run that helped No. 1 Duke pull away for a 90-77 victory over pesky Santa Clara yesterday.

Mason Plumlee added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils (12-0), who needed a huge run late to overcome both a big game from Kevin Foster and a real scare from the Broncos (11-3).

Foster scored 18 of his 29 points in the first half, and his soaring baseline dunk put the Broncos up 45-41 with 16:30 left. But the Broncos managed just one field goal over the next 8½ minutes.

Curry hit two 3-pointers and followed with three layups during the Blue Devils’ 26-5 run.

The Blue Devils won their 101st straight nonconference game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Evan Roquemore added 17 points while Marc Trasolini and Raymond Cowels III had 10 apiece for Santa Clara, which was playing the No. 1 team for just the second time since 1981 and fell to 0-12 all-time against top-ranked opponents.

No. 4 Louisville 80, Kentucky 77

Louisville, Ky. — Russ Smith scored 21 points and Chane Behanan had 20 and Louisville ended a four-game losing streak to rival Kentucky.

Peyton Siva added 19 points as the Cardinals (12-1) won a hard-fought Battle of the Bluegrass. Though the Cardinals trail the series 30-15, their victory followed last spring’s 69-61 national semifinal loss to the Wildcats, who went on to win their eighth national championship.

No. 10 Ohio St. 87, Chicago St. 44

Columbus, Ohio — Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points and Ohio State regained its shooting touch in its final tuneup before beginning Big Ten play.

LaQuinton Ross added 15 points, Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 13, Amedeo Della Valle had career-high 11 and Aaron Craft scored 10 for the Buckeyes (10-2), who complete an eight-game homestand when they host Nebraska in the conference opener on Wednesday.

No. 12 Illinois 81, Auburn 79

Chicago — Tracy Abrams scored a career-high 27 points for Illinois.

The Illini (13-1) saw an 11-point lead shrink to one in the closing minutes but they prevailed after falling to Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights game a week earlier — their first loss under coach John Groce.

No. 14 Florida 78, Air Force 61

Sunrise, Fla. — Kenny Boynton snapped a shooting slump with three 3-pointers in the second half when Florida pulled away.

Florida (9-2) won for only the second time in the past four games. Air Force (8-3) fell to 2-77 against ranked teams.

UNC 79, No. 20 UNLV 73

Chapel Hill, n.c. — P.J. Hairston scored 15 points in his first career start for North Carolina.

Dexter Strickland added a season-high 16 points for the Tar Heels (10-3), who led by 15 points in the first half and by nine at the break. But UNC had to turn away a second-half surge by the Runnin’ Rebels (11-2) to earn the program’s 63rd straight home win against nonconference opponents.

Freshman Anthony Bennett had 15 points and 13 rebounds for UNLV, which led by a point briefly in the second half but spent most of the game in catch-up mode. Katin Reinhardt and Anthony Marshall each added 15 points for the Runnin’ Rebels, who also got Mike Moser back from an elbow injury after a four-game absence.

No. 23 N.C. St. 84, W. Michigan 68

Raleigh, n.c. — C.J. Leslie scored 19 points to lead North Carolina State.

Richard Howell added 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting for the Wolfpack (10-2), who won their sixth consecutive game.

UConn Gives Coach 5-Year deal

Hartford, Conn. — Connecticut gave men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie a new contract that runs through the end of the 2017-18 season.

The deal, signed yesterday, is worth just under $7 million and begins Jan. 1. When Ollie was hired in September, he was signed for just one season.

Ollie, who turned 40 on Thursday, was hired after Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun retired. His original deal had a pro-rated value of just over $465,000, the school said.

Ollie has led UConn to a 9-2 record entering last night’s game against Washington despite losing five underclassmen from last year’s team after it was announced that the Huskies were academically ineligible for the upcoming postseason.

Ollie was greeted with a standing ovation as he walked on the court last night and the student section chanted his name.

“He’s shown that he can coach, that he can lead this team on the court, and academically,” athletic director Warde Manuel said. “He’s the epitome of an UConn Husky.”

Ollie, who played point guard for Calhoun from 1991-95, was his former coach’s hand-picked successor. He became an assistant at UConn in 2010, after 13 years as an NBA journeyman.