The Cavaliers grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and turned the ball over only nine times while coming close to ending a Duke home winning streak that has now reached 44 games.
Plumlee hit 5-of-6 from the field and scored 12 points in Duke's 15th straight win over Virginia in Cameron Indoor Arena. Seth Curry and Austin Rivers both had 11 points and Andrew Dawkins had 10 for the Blue Devils (14-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
A dunk by Akil Mitchell with 47 seconds remaining brought the Cavaliers within three and neither side scored the rest of the way.
Duke's Ryan Kelly missed a layup with 15 seconds to go and Mitchell rebounded for Virginia. The Cavaliers then got off a pair of 3-point tries over the final 4 seconds, but neither Mike Scott nor Jontel Evans could force overtime.
Scott paced Virginia (14-2, 1-1) with 23 points.