DURHAM, N.C. -- This was the kind of game that had the feel of a matchup between two final four teams.
It was hard-nosed, between two teams from the top two conferences in college basketball. In the end the Blue Devils (16-1) prevailed, outworking the Hoyas for a 76-67 victory.
It featured two Blue Devils making animated gestures toward the crowd bringing the Cameron Crazies to deafening levels of cheers.
Gerald Henderson, whose game high 23 on 10-of-15 shooting including 3-of-5 from behind the three point line, continued his streak of putting together remarkable performances scoring 17 points in the first half, surging Duke to a 40-29 halftime lead.
The Merion, Pa. native was nearly perfect for the half shooting 7-of-8 from the floor and recording a block that saw the higher flyer get the top of the ball.
“My teammates were finding me,” Henderson said. “I was coming off stuff shooting and I was open and I have unbelievable teammates. They are going to make the right plays. I was left open a few times. I hit some shots, came off some stuff and I got into a good flow.”
His third three, and final three of the half, was a long pull up three from the left edge that saw Henderson raise his arms up to his side in jubilation as the ball swooshed through the net.
After the game Henderson was surprised the shot went in.
“I hit a shot that I normally don’t hit,” Henderson said. “A long pull up three is not a shot that I am taking a lot, but it went in and it was great for us.”
That three put the Blue Devils up 38-29 capping off a run of three consecutive made threes by the Blue Devils, which resulted in the junior making an Incredible Hulk motion as the Blue Devils made their way back down the court to play defense.
“I think he is completely over that wrist injury,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “He was out for four months... The last month he has gone up. He is in great shape. He is in the best shape that he has been in since he has been here.”
During this 15-0 run, that seeped over into the second half; the Blue Devils held the Hoyas without a point for 6:07 as Georgetown would enter the half shooting 42.9 percent from the floor.
“With the crowd and the intensity of the game, the way we wanted to play defense, we played some pretty good defense, they have got some pretty good players over there,” Henderson said. “It was a good effort and a great win for us.”
“We know we are going to beat teams with our defense,” Henderson added. “Every game our defense is what has to drive us.”
The second crowd inspiring gesture came from Greg Paulus, who scored 10 points off the bench in 23 minutes knocking a pair of threes.
“I thought Greg that was by far his best performance this year,” Krzyzewski said. “What he showed was fight. He was playing really good defensively, he was attacking, and he was playing with emotion, huge boost. We don’t win the game without Greg today. No question about that.”
Midway through the second half, Paulus scored five points in the middle of a 15-3 Duke run that pushed the lead, which had been dwindled down to four by Georgetown, up to a 16 point advantage for the Blue Devils.
The senior point guard followed up a running floater in the lane with a 23-foot three, slapping the floor repeatedly after to fire up the Blue Devils on the defensive end.
“Greg played with a lot of confidence today, he hit some big shots and when Gerald is hitting like that I think we are a tough team to beat,” Jon Scheyer, who finished with 11 points and a team high five assists, said.
One of the points of emphasis for Paulus after the game was the fact that the Blue Devils were able to defend their home court.
“It is one of those things where it’s our court and I don’t want to have anybody come in here and try to push us around,” Paulus said.