Thomas' Career Night Powers Duke

Not surprisingly, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith both scored in double digits and controlled the tempo of the game in No. 7 Duke's 95-72 win over Duquesne Friday in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

But no one could have expected 21 points out of reserve forward Lance Thomas.

The junior forward shot 8-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line for his career-high output off the bench and asserted himself more than he ever has in his career--which portends well for the Blue Devils, who will have to compete with some of the nation's best frontcourts (read: Tyler Hansbrough) once ACC play begins.

"In our offense, a lot of opponents like to stop what we're doing on the perimeter, and [Thomas] just plays off what we're doing," said Gerald Henderson, who scored six points. "He embraces that role. He knows that's how he's going to score, and he does that every night."

Senior guard Greg Paulus managed to surprise, too, even though his nine points don't necessarily stand out on the boxscore. Smith continued to drive the Duke offense and draw raves from TV announcers, but Paulus embraced his backup role Friday, which is an albeit easier task without the hindrance of injuries. Paulus, who made three 3-pointers, still sported a sleeve on his right arm to protect a forearm contusion.

And even though Smith has the reigns of the team, Paulus hasn't relinquished the respect he earned over three seasons running the show.

"Absolutely, he's our leader," junior Marty Pocius said of Paulus. "When he's out there, you can really tell the difference. We need him, whether he's 100 percent or 50 percent. He's just that guy who's been around, and I think we really need him."


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