DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Greg Paulus got back just in time for
The sophomore point guard had seven assists after being
sidelined for almost the entire preseason because of a foot injury,
while freshman Brian Zoubek scored 18 points to lead the Blue
Devils (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) past Columbia 86-43 on Sunday night in the CBE Classic.
Fellow freshmen Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas each scored 12
points for the Blue Devils, who advanced to face Georgia Southern
on Monday night in the second round of the Durham Regional. Duke
improved to 25-2 in openers under Hall of Fame coach Mike
Krzyzewski and pushed its nonconference home winning streak to 41
The Blue Devils had plenty of positives in an easy win, starting
with the solid debut of a freshman class that will have to play
significant minutes all season after the losses of graduated
All-Americans J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. But Paulus' return
was probably the most welcome sight for a young team in desperate
need of his leadership.
Paulus hurt his left foot on the second day of practice,
reaggravating an injury suffered in high school. It kept the
sophomore tri-captain sidelined indefinitely, forcing Scheyer to
handle the bulk of the point guard duties during the Blue Devils'
two exhibition wins.
But Paulus worked his way through weeks of rehabilitation and
returned to practice Thursday, then earned the start against the
"It was one of those things where you kind of hope but you're
not really sure," Paulus said of his return. "But I tried to keep
optimistic and it worked out well. Obviously the goal was to play
in this game. I didn't know if that was feasible, with the pain and
I everything I had to go through as far as rehab."
Paulus' presence -- from constantly directing his teammates where
to be in the offense to counseling them after turnovers -- made
everything run a little smoother for the Blue Devils. Scheyer was
probably the biggest beneficiary, moving back to the wing where he
looks more comfortable and hitting four 3-pointers in the first
"It definitely took a lot of pressure off me having Greg
there," Scheyer said.
The Blue Devils had plenty of balance, with Zoubek going 4-for-7
from the floor and 10-for-13 from the line. Junior DeMarcus Nelson
-- the team's only scholarship upperclassman -- scored 11 points
while sophomore Martynas Pocius added nine with a pair of 3s.
Josh McRoberts, a 6-foot-10 sophomore captain, finished with
eight points on 2-for-2 shooting. But he turned in a solid
all-around performance, finishing with seven rebounds, three
assists and three blocks in 24 minutes.
"None of the veterans forced anything," Krzyzewski said. "I
like the fact our veterans don't feel in a game where we're winning
pretty big that they need some superficial stats to show how good
they are. They want to work on developing our team."
The Blue Devils took a double-digit lead less than 8 minutes in
and increased the margin steadily the rest of the night. Duke shot
73 percent to take a 46-24 lead at the break, then opened the
second half with nine straight points to push the margin to 31 and
never looked back.
Duke shot 58 percent for the game and hit 24 of 36 free throws.
The Blue Devils also scored 29 points off 19 turnovers fueled by
their aggressive perimeter defense, while McRoberts and the 7-foot
Zoubek controlled the inside against the undersized Lions.
"The Duke players play every possession so you know they're not
going to have a night off when they're not ready to play,"
Columbia coach Joe Jones said. "Their size overwhelmed us. They
played very well together. They played as a team. They made plays
for each other. And I thought as the game went on, we just couldn't
handle the speed, the intensity, their athletic ability, their size
-- it all just did us in."
John Baumann scored 13 points to lead the Lions, who shot 29