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January 18, 2007

Defense dominates in win over Wake

After an offensive outburst carried Duke to victory Sunday night at Miami, the Blue Devils returned to the defensive M.O. they have had most of the year against Wake Forest Thursday night.

The Demon Deacons shot just 33.3 percent and turned the ball over 21 times in a 62-40 Duke win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke point guard Greg Paulus provided early separation for the Blue Devils on the scoreboard when he knocked down four first half 3-pointers. Paulus consistently had open space at the top of the key against the Demon Deacons' zone defense and the sophomore made them pay.

Paulus scored 14 first half points to send Duke to the locker room with a 35-21 lead, but other Blue Devils made some big contributions as well.

Freshman Gerald Henderson electrified the Cameron Crazies with a couple of high flying first half dunks, including one on an offensive rebound where he timed his jump perfectly and threw home a thunderous slam.

David McClure also made a pair of big first half plays, scoring on an acrobatic tip in under the basket and converting a three point play that pushed Duke out to an early 9-4 lead.

Both teams struggled to gain consistent rhythm on the offensive end, but Duke's defensive effort against Wake Forest was arguably the best of the year in a season that has had many great Duke defensive performances.

Wake Forest's 40 points matched the 40 that Seton Hall scored last year in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and was the least allowed since Winthrop managed only 37 points in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.

The Demon Deacons rallied from an early 10 point deficit to close the gap to 20-17 late in the first half, but the Blue Devils finished the half on a 15-4 run to effectively bury Wake Forest, who just didn't have enough firepower to make any sustained runs.

Two of Paulus's three pointers came in that final first half run, which encompassed the last 6:38 of the half.

Josh McRoberts joined Paulus in double figures with 11 points, but it was his all around game that again stood out.

McRoberts paced the Blue Devils with six assists, eight rebounds, and three blocks. His driving tomahawk slam in the final minutes of the game gave the crowd a dunk in addition to the show Henderson put on, and he also displayed his pizzazz as an open court ball handler, using a reverse through the legs dribble to help start a transition opportunity in the second half.

DeMarcus Nelson and Jon Scheyer both added nine points, but Scheyer was off with his jumper for much of the game, going just 3-11 from the floor.

Wake Forest senior Kyle Visser was the only Demon Deacon to reach double figures. Visser scored 12 points but was hampered with foul trouble much of the night and never got a real chance to impact the game on multiple consecutive possessions.

Wake Forest finished the game with only five assists compared to 21 turnovers, which led to 21 Duke points.

The Blue Devil victory moves Duke back to 2-2 in ACC play heading into Saturday's contest at NC State at the RBC Center in Raleigh.


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