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Monday, January 19, 2009

Henderson leads Devils to spirited win over Hoyas

Posted by on Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 1:23 AM

DURHAM -- Duke prevailed over Georgetown 76-67 in a heavyweight showdown on Saturday to make another statement that perhaps the Blue Devils are the nation's best team.

Junior Gerald Henderson paced the club with 23 points on a variety of sensational moves — including one electrifying alley-oop off an in-bounds play — while forward Kyle Singer added 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Seemingly one by one, this Duke team continues to achieve separation from its recent incarnations that left the fanbase depressed after early exits from the NCAA Tournament. Duke outrebounded the big and athletic Hoyas 32-29 and opened up a big second half lead while failing to hold Georgetown under 50 percent shooting.

What this group of Devils has demonstrated is versatility. They entered the season with a reputation for being soft, yet they have beaten up touted opponents physically. They had suffered through shooting problems at times during the season, but against the Hoyas they converted on eight threes at a solid 38 percent clip.

Duke's pressure defense disrupted Georgetown's methodical offense even without forcing many turnovers. The Hoyas struggled to get good looks and though they did hurt the Devils with penetration late in the game, overall it took them too much time to accomplish what they needed in order to prevail on Duke's home floor.

One interesting aspect of the game was the reduction in minutes for big man Brian Zoubek, who has been a key contributor this season. Matched against stud freshman Greg Monroe, however, Zoubek didn't have the quickness to defend him on the perimeter. Again, Duke's versatility proved crucial.

"Monroe is a very good unique player, and he's their point guard — he plays at the top, goes to the side, and if you play him in a traditional sense, big-on-big, he's going to get a lot of open passes," Mike Krzyzewski said. "We have a versatile team, and we should be able to use our personnel to match up against someone the way we did, and that's why we did it."

Duke, which likely will be ranked No. 2 behind Wake Forest on Monday, is edging toward a January 28 mega-tilt against the Demon Deacons. In the interim, they'll play N.C. State on Wednesday night and Maryland next weekend, both games in Durham.

To see the box score from Saturday's game, click here.

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