Both messages were clear: Because of Henderson's scoring touch — and Paulus' intensity at both ends of the court — the Blue Devils' long home winning streak is safe for another season.
Henderson scored 23 points and No. 3 Duke held on to beat No. 13 Georgetown 76-67 on Saturday.
Kyle Singler added 15 points and 16 rebounds and Jon Scheyer had 11 points for the Blue Devils (16-1), who won their eighth straight overall. They shot 48.6 percent and closed their home nonconference schedule by winning their Division I-best 68th consecutive non-ACC game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"It's our court, and I don't want to have anybody come in here and push us around," Paulus said.
DaJuan Summers scored 21 points in his 17th straight double-figure game, and Austin Freeman added 15 for the Hoyas (12-4).
Freshman Greg Monroe — who was recruited hard by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski — finished with 12 points, but was called for a technical foul with about 15 minutes remaining that swung momentum back to the Blue Devils.
Georgetown trailed by 15 points in the second half before clawing back in the game with a 13-2 run early in the second half, pulling to 46-42 on Summers' free throw with 15˝ minutes left.
But roughly 30 seconds later, Henry Sims was whistled for a blocking foul near the baseline and Monroe objected from the bench, prompting the technical foul from official John Cahill — the fourth foul on the Hoyas' 6-foot-11 big man.
"I don't even believe (Cahill) was even looking at the bench, but I know I definitely didn't say anything," Monroe said. "I can't say what I heard, or what somebody else said, but I know I didn't say a thing."
Scheyer knocked down the two free throws that followed to start the game-breaking 15-3 run that included a critical 25-footer from Paulus. Nolan Smith capped the burst by finger-rolling a drive through the lane to make it 61-45 with 10˝ minutes left.
"It's how you react from that. We got two free throws right after that, but then I think we scored right after that, so it becomes a different game," Scheyer said. "We had a chance where we could really capitalize on (the technical foul), and we did that."
Georgetown got no closer than five points the rest of the way, pulling to 72-67 on Omar Wattad's 3-pointer with 38 seconds left before Duke hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds.
The technical foul "clearly altered how they attacked us and what we could do, but that's not the reason we ended up with less points than them," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "They outplayed us. We're not going to sit here and look at that and say that's the reason the outcome was what it was."
Paulus, a three-year starter at point guard who is coming off the bench as a senior, finished with 10 points. After his long 3, he slapped the court — a motivational tactic made famous through the years by Duke point guards looking to inspire their teammates to make a crucial stop.
"What he showed was fight," Krzyzewski said of Paulus. "He was attacking. He was playing with emotion. We don't win without Greg today."
Duke found itself in a rare close non-ACC game at Cameron. The Hoyas were just the second nonconference team in two seasons to stay within single digits, but couldn't become the first non-league team to win here since fellow Big East member St. John's did nearly nine years ago.
The Blue Devils became just the 12th team in three-plus seasons to shoot at least 45 percent against Georgetown — and Henderson's shooting touch, especially early, had a lot to do with that.
Henderson "put them on his shoulders and carried them through the first half," Thompson said. "He got into the flow. That happens with good players."
The athletic swingman came up two points shy of the career high he set last week at Florida State, but he still reached double figures for the ninth straight game and made it three in a row with at least 19 points. He nearly had that many by halftime, scoring 17 while hitting his first seven shots — including 3-pointers 40 seconds apart late in the half.
After the second of those swished through over Julian Vaughn, Henderson — a Philadelphia native who grew up watching the Villanova-Georgetown rivalry — lifted his arms in amazement.
"Teams are going to play me to drive, so I need to be able to knock that down," Henderson said. "I hit a shot that I normally don't hit — a long, pull-up 3 is not a shot that I'm taking a lot, but it went in."
Those 3s came during a dominant stretch for Duke, which held the Hoyas without a field goal during the final 7˝ minutes of the half while outscoring them 17-2.
"That spurt that we had with the 3s was, whew, crazy-good," Krzyzewski said. "They got on a hot streak, and that kind of blew it open for a little bit."