It was the first game for Duke since it assumed the top spot in the national rankings and the Blue Devils (10-0) remained one of eight unbeaten teams in major college basketball.
Duke led by only four points inside the 4-minute mark of the first half, but the Blue Devils held Cornell scoreless for the final 1:43 of the opening period and for the first 6:26 of the second.
Duke scored 23 points in that stretch and Curry finished with 20. He made three of the Blue Devils' seven 3-pointers and his 7-of-10 from the field paced Duke to a 53 percent shooting night.
Mason Plumlee added 18 points for Duke and Rasheed Sulaimon had 16.
Shonn Miller tallied 12 points for Cornell (4-7), which turned the ball over 25 times and made only 1-of-10 from beyond the arc.