Maybe Duke is just bored, how else do you explain a second straight game where the Devils spotted their opponent nine points in the first half?
The X-factor though was Brandon Costner in the first half. He controlled the paint on defense and he kept getting to the line, taking about ten free throws alone.
While the Devils found it tough to run in the first twenty, the O wasn’t the issue. Again, they failed to play defense. Too often guys were playing D with their hands, not their feet, committing too many fouls in the process. However, in the second half, everything change, including the shirts.
Led by Paulus and Singler (who had a very quiet 19 points), the Blue Devils rolled, eliminating the 9-point deficit before the first TV timeout. While they weren’t the stars, Henderson and Nelson continued to be the dynamic duo (gay jokes by Duke haters coming in 5, 4, 3, 2…). They each scored 18, more often than not on drives to the hole and fade away jumpers.
The Wolfpack quickly began to lose their composure, committing dumb fouls and taking quick shots. After Paulus’ behind-the-head pass to Singler, the Devils never looked back, winning by 20.
- I have to believe Coach Lowe took way too long to get Costner back into the game. He was the difference maker in the first half. When he finally got back in, Duke had already owned the ‘mo. By the time Duke took complete control, Costner was reduced to chucking up a couple 3’s, which made no sense for a guy who was dominating the paint in the first 20.
- The 6th different Blue Devil broke the 20-point mark this season (Paulus 22 points). We haven’t seen this kind of balance at Duke since 2002. Each night, at least two guys seem to be on their game. This team has to be a scouting nightmare for opposing coaches.
- Where is the long range king? Taylor King went 0-2 tonight (which I believe is back-to-back shutouts). My biggest fear is, if he continues to struggle, Coach K will shorten up the bench. I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen and I can’t let that happen!
- Is it me or does Lance Thomas always seem to make one great play, followed by one dumb play? He’ll score a deuce on offense, then commit a foul 40-feet from the basket on defense. He’ll hand off a perfect assist on one end, then fumble the ball out of balance on the other end. Four points, five rebounds and five fouls won’t be enough against the elite teams.
- I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kind of miss Zoubek.
- Greg Paulus may have not only had his best game this season, it may have been the best game of his career. He finished with 22 points and six rebounds. Most importantly ZERO turnovers. This was big for Paulus, considering Nolan Smith was coming off his best game of the year against Maryland. Now if we could only get these kind of numbers on the road?
- I hate to say this, but Gerald Henderson (if he keeps this up) could go pro after this season. Personally, I don’t see it happening. He comes from money, so cash won’t be an issue. He just looks like such a complete player, ahead of Grant Hill at this stage of his career). Duke better be making sure he’s having a lot of fun on campus. Ladies, I’m talking to you.
- Scheyer only took one shot from the field? One shot, really? With Henderson’s and Nelson’s driving ability, I can’t understand why he’s not getting more open looks hovering around the three line.
- In the past week or so, I’ve seen more bumps, stare downs and ‘near’ confrontations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to lay the blame on all of Duke’s opponents, however, I got some advice for them. The way to show that you’re not intimidated is by how you play, not wetting your shorts when lil’ Paulus gives you a hard foul or gets a call on a stupid flop.
- Speaking of fouls…the Devils are committing way too many and soon it’s going to cost them. In the past three games, they’ve either committed more fouls or taken less free throws than their opponent. Obviously, this is going to happen when you have no legit big man and you’re playing small. However, what happened to the good old days when Duke make more free throws then their opponent’s shot?
- This might have been one of the more exciting second halves I’ve seen in a Duke game (and this includes NC State). Both Nelson and Henderson had some spectacular dunks, Paulus handed off a sweet behind-the-head pass to Singler, but the play of the game (in fact, the sequence of the game) had to be Fells block on Lance Thomas. He just simple took it away from him with one hand. Then he proceeded to throw it down court to Gonzalez, who handed it off to Gavin Grant for a monster slam.
For a brief moment, I thought that would be the kind of play to get NC State back into the flow. However, while the Wolfpack celebrated and strutted to the crowd , Paulus scooted down the field and nailed a three. NC State got the highlight, but Duke got the sequence by a point. In fact, after that amazing block and slam, Duke went on a 20-3 run.
Player of the Game: Greg Paulus….he was the second half.
Props go to: Gavin Grant….the guy couldn’t miss.
Here’s a second opinion from someone at the game.