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Paulus, Duke show heart vs. Gonzaga

Dec 22, 2006 - 7:19 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Greg Paulus may have banged his chin, but he helped Duke draw first blood against Gonzaga.

Paulus scored a career-high 20 points as sixth-ranked Duke captured its first win over No. 24 Gonzaga, 61-54, in the Aeropostale Classic.

Struggling early in the season after recovering from a foot injury, the sophomore Paulus has appeared to find his form, scoring in double figures in three of his last five games.

"Whatever injury he had, it was a weird injury," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski about Paulus' early-season problems. "You're out for five weeks and it knocks you down. But he was terrific tonight."

Despite his struggles, Paulus always has been a gritty competitor, and he showed it by splitting open his chin diving for a loose ball just over five minutes into the second half.

"I didn't know where the blood was coming from," Paulus said. "I didn't know what it looked like, a cut or just a bruise. When I saw the people come over, I just wanted to get out there and play. Coach just told me to relax."

"They play so darn hard," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "You have guys like Paulus diving into the scorer's table and just flying around."

After going to the bench to get five stitches and bandaged, Paulus returned one minute later and hit a couple of big shots, handing the Bulldogs (9-4) their second straight loss and first in nine games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.

Included in that winning streak against ACC clubs was an 82-74 victory here over North Carolina in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off on November 22.

"We are trying to just play in big games and big environments that mimic the NCAA Tournament," Few said. "(This) game had a NCAA Tournament feel to it, with somewhat of a neutral floor and teams away from home, and two teams going at it really hard. Their guys just stepped up and made plays down the stretch."

Holding a 45-40 lead with less than six minutes left, Paulus sank his fourth 3-pointer of the game from the left corner, tying a career high. He finished 4-of-6 from the arc.

"Paulus had his best game of his career," Krzyzewski said. "He just played with such a burn."

Gonzaga attempted another push, closing within, 54-50, on a layup by freshman Matt Bouldin with 1:33 remaining.

Paulus answered right back, completing a give-and-go with Josh McRoberts for a 56-50 edge with 58 seconds left.

"They kept coming back at us, making runs," Paulus said. "Some teams would fold and some teams are going to fight back. So it was good to see that we fought back and would come back with a (answer) of our own."

Freshman Jon Scheyer scored 14 points and McRoberts 11 for the Blue Devils (11-1), who improved to 8-1 all-time against West Coast Conference clubs.

Jeremy Pargo scored 20 points and Josh Heytvelt 10 for the Bulldogs, who got just four points from leading scorer Derek Raivio - 16 below his season average.

Gonzaga dropped to 8-2 all-time against the ACC.

Before Gonzaga's current two-game slid, Raivio had scored at least 20 points in eight straight games, helping to fill the void created by the early departure of the nation's leading scorer last season, Adam Morrison.

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    GONZAGA (24) 21 33 54
    DUKE (6) 20 41 61 FINAL

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    NCAA BB GONZAGA (24) 21
    DUKE (6) 20 HALFTIME

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