No. 7 Duke wins 21st straight over Davidson behind Paulus, Henderson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Davidson kept rallying from double-digit deficits, giving No. 7 Duke a rare close game.

But the Wildcats don't have athletes like Gerald Henderson.

In his best game of the season, Henderson had 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while Greg Paulus had two key baskets and a steal in the final 2 minutes, as the Blue Devils remained unbeaten by holding off pesky Davidson 79-73 on Saturday.

"I thought [Henderson] was the difference, both offensively and defensively," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He had 21, but he had three really big blocks, two in the second half. You just don't teach that."

Jon Scheyer scored 15 points and Kyle Singler added 14 and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Blue Devils (8-0), who needed big plays from Henderson to extend their winning streak over Davidson to 21 straight.

Duke eventually wore down the Wildcats, using a wave of players and superior athleticism led by Henderson, who shot 8-for-17 and made 4-of-5 free throws.

"We got a lead where it was hard for them to come back at the end," Henderson said. "They hit a few shots in the last couple of minutes, but it just wasn't enough. We did our work before that. I'm proud of the guys. This is a good win for us."

Davidson (3-3), which took top-ranked North Carolina to the wire just over two weeks ago, rallied from down 16 in the first half and 12 with 5 minutes to play, getting within 70-65 with 2:37 left.

Paulus, who scored 11 points, then hit a 3-pointer. After Stephen Curry hit a 3 at the other end, Paulus' baseline fadeaway with 32 seconds left gave Duke a 75-68 lead.

Paulus then stole the ball from Jason Richards, and Duke held on with Henderson's two free throws with 5.3 seconds left putting it away.

Curry scored 20 points despite playing the final 12 minutes with four fouls, and Richards added 14 points and 11 assists for Davidson.

"I don't like this feeling at all," Curry said. "Two times we've been in this gym and we've been right there with them."

And poor shooting did them in, again, in the Wildcats' 23rd straight loss to a ranked team. Davidson hit eight of 24 3s, after shooting 4-of-22 from long range against the Tar Heels. Davidson also missed seven of 12 free throws.

Davidson will get another chance to knock off a heavyweight next week, when it plays No. 2 UCLA.

"I think when we've been on this stage we've handled ourselves very well," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "The encouraging factor is our guys will learn from this experience."

Duke had won its first seven games by an average of 15 points, including an 82-58 rout of No. 20 Wisconsin on Tuesday. But despite being far more athletic, the Blue Devils never got comfortable against Davidson, which won a school-record 29 games last season before losing to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Duke, though, was able to hit 11 3-pointers to offset 16 turnovers and win its 42nd straight game against Southern Conference teams, in part thanks to foul trouble from Davidson's star.

Curry, the son of former NBA 3-point specialist Dell Curry, picked up his second offensive foul with 8:39 left in the first half. With him on the bench, Duke immediately scored 10 straight points in a 17-4 run.

The Blue Devils eventually took a 40-24 lead on Scheyer's 3-pointer and three free throws.

The Wildcats got back in the game by going on an 8-0 run to start the second half, with Curry's straightaway 3 cutting Duke's lead to 43-40.

But Curry would pick up his fourth foul -- on another charge -- with 11:58 left, and Henderson's alley-oop dunk and driving layup got Duke's cushion back to 10.

Curry hit 8 of 17 shots and 4 of 7 3s, but McKillop wouldn't criticize Curry for being overly aggressive around the basket.

"I'm not a puppeteer. We run. We ran against Carolina and we ran against Duke," McKillop said. "We don't hold it up like Princeton and make 30 passes. No, I'm a risk taker and I want my players to be risk takers. Steph was a risk taker and it just didn't work out for him."