Paulus Leads Duke Past Gonzaga

The big question on Mike Krzyzewski's mind entering Thursday night's game against Gonzaga was could his young Blue Devils respond against a quality opponent on the nation's biggest stage. After a slow start, he got his answer as Duke beat Gonzaga 61-54.

Sophomore point guard Greg Paulus had a career high 20 points, while fellow captain Josh McRoberts added 11 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists as Duke overcame an horrendous early game shooting slump to earn their eleventh victory of the season.

After jumping out to a 6-2 lead, the Blue Devils would watch as Gonzaga put together a 17-4 run over the next 10 minutes to hold a 19-10 advantage. During that stretch Duke's field goal percentage plummeted all the way down to 15% (4-of-26), while the Zags' attacking style slowly built the lead - and seemingly took the air and fight from the young Duke team. After Paulus hit a jumper at the 11:39 mark, Duke wouldn't score again until freshman Jon Scheyer converted a pair of free throws with 5:47 remaining.

At the under four minute media timeout, Krzyzewski implored his team to loosen up despite the surroundings while continuing to play on the defensive end. The message was received loud and clear as the Blue Devils would score eight unanswered to regain the lead at 20-19 on a DeMarcus Nelson three pointer from the right corner with 1:12 remaining.

The teams would trade baskets directly after intermission before Nelson again lost his man and nailed a three from the right corner to put Duke ahead to stay at 32-30 with 16:18 remaining. The shot would ignite a 10-2 run which would build a working margin for Duke, which wouldn't be relinquished the rest of the way.

Jon Scheyer joined McRoberts and Paulus in double figures with 14 points, while Nelson added 9 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out with over five minutes remaining. Freshman Gerald Henderson rounded out the scoring column with seven points in 21 minutes.

The win is Duke's seventh straight, and easily the most notable on the season. Entering the game Gonzaga had beaten then #8 Washington by 20, #2 North Carolina by 8, and #25 Texas by 10. The Blue Devils will now return home to spend the holidays with family and friends before returning to the court on December 31st against San Jose State in Cameron Indoor.

The Devils Den Top Stories