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Paulus' great shooting helps Duke top North Carolina

Feb 7, 2008 - 7:47 AM CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- With much of the talk coming in dealing with whether his counterpart would play, Greg Paulus showed his sizzling stroke.

Paulus connected on a career-high six 3-pointers and scored 18 points as second-ranked Duke knocked off No. 3 North Carolina, 89-78, in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown on Wednesday.

Jon Scheyer scored 17 points and freshman Kyle Singler added 14 and 10 rebounds as the Blue Devils (20-1, 8-0 ACC) snapped a three-game losing streak in what is considered one of the greatest rivalries in college basketball.

In all, Duke had six players score in double figures as it won its 10th straight game.

"Well, it was a heck of a game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "A number of our guys made big plays and it is hard to single out just one guy. This is a game where there are some many points where the game can go the other way. It just seemed like when it was going to turn one of our guys made a play."

The big story coming into the highly-anticipated matchup was the status of the Tar Heels' Ty Lawson, who was questionable to play after spraining his left ankle in Sunday's overtime win at Florida State.

The sophomore point guard ended up missing his second game of the season, and first since a win at Ohio State on November 28.

"It was an easy decision," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I told him if we had doubts about it I wasn't going to play him. I asked and he said, 'I don't know' and the decision was that I wasn't going to play him. So it was pretty easy."

While many wondered how Lawson's absence would affect the ACC's top-ranked offense, Paulus provided some high scoring of his own, connecting on three of his four 3-point attempts in the first half.

"They ran their stuff a little differently, their transition wasn't as fast because of him," Duke guard Gerald Henderson said. "He's a real jet, so it's unfortunate that he's hurt, so we still had to go out there and execute our gameplan and not worry about him not being in the game."

The junior's second 3-pointer provided the Blue Devils with a 24-18 lead with 10:09 remaining in the opening half. That lead grew to as many as 11 points, but the Tar Heels cut the deficit to 42-39 after closing the first half with an 8-0 run.

While North Carolina struggled with turnovers in the opening 20 minutes without Lawson - committing 10, Tyler Hansbrough did his best to keep the Tar Heels close, scoring 18 of his 28 points.

However, the power provided inside by the junior forward was no match for Duke's outstanding outside shooting. Behind Paulus, the Blue Devils went 13-of-29 (45 percent) from the arc.

"They got any shot they wanted," Williams said. "I don't know very many times tonight our defense dictated what shot they got. They had better spacing; they were more patient. I asked, and they thought I was kidding - it shows how poor of a coach I am, at one timeout I told them I wanted a dunk or a 35-second shot clock violation. We didn't get either one of them."

While North Carolina tried to make a charge at the start of the second half, Paulus knocked down two more 3-pointers in the first 2:15 after intermission to help stem the tide.

Overall, Paulus went 6-of-8 from the arc, continuing an outstanding stretch for the junior point guard. In his last four games, he is shooting 59 percent (17-of-29) from long range.

Wayne Ellington's tip shot pulled the Tar Heels within 53-51 with 16:17 to play, but the Blue Devils responded with a 9-2 run. Lance Thomas had four points during the burst.

Despite its shortcomings, North Carolina was able to make it 83-78 when Danny Green hit a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left following an ill-advised pass by Paulus.

However, Duke converted six of 10 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

"It's frustrating. We go on a little run and they'd turn around and hit a three and go get an offensive rebound and layup," Green said. "Like I said, they played a great game. We didn't play as well as we could individually or as a whole. They went out there and played their best game."

One player for Duke that did not have his best effort was DeMarcus Nelson. The team's leading scorer at 15.2 points coming in, the senior went 3-of-9 from the field en route to 13 points.

However, Nelson was able to play through foul issues, picking up his fourth early in the second half.

"I thought DeMarcus' experience, in foul trouble the whole game and played most of the second half with four," Krzyzewski said. "To stay in the game we really needed his experience at the end."

Henderson had 12 points and seven rebounds and Thomas added 10 for the Blue Devils, who finished 45.5 percent (30-of-66) from the field and collected 11 steals.

"I do believe that Duke has all the ingredients," Williams said. "They have played sensational basketball all season. They have great chemistry. I am very impressed with their team. They were the most disciplined team."

While Duke had an impressive showing as a team, Hansbrough was nearly a one-man effort also grabbing 18 rebounds. Behind him, North Carolina finished with a 49-38 advantage on the boards.

Playing without his backcourt mate, Ellington - the Tar Heels' second-leading scorer - struggled, going 3-of-14 from the field to finish with eight points. He missed all six of his 3-pointers.

After some early turnover issues attempting to fill in for Lawson, Quentin Thomas ended up with a productive outing. The senior, making just his second career start and first since his freshman season in 2004-05, had 10 points and handed out seven assists.