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Ark.-Pine Bluff earns first-round date with Duke

DAYTON, Ohio - Arkansas-Pine Bluff finally found a road trip to its liking.

Allen Smith scored 14 points last night, including two three-pointers during the Golden Lions' second-half surge to a 61-44 win over Winthrop in the NCAA Tournament's opening game.

The Golden Lions (18-15) will play Duke - the No. 1 seed in the West - Friday in Jacksonville, Fla., a stunning development given how their season started. Arkansas-Pine Bluff lost its first 11 games - all on the road - before rallying to earn the Southwestern Athletic Conference title and its first NCAA berth.

Winthrop (19-14) has made the tournament nine times in the last 12 years but has only one win.

Just about everybody figures Duke has the easiest Final Four path of any of the No. 1 seeds. Well, everybody but the Blue Devils.

"This is the NCAA Tournament," guard Nolan Smith said. "There's no such thing as an easy path."

Duke hasn't reached the Final Four since 2004, its longest drought since the mid-1980s.


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