The Jackets had the Irish doubled up early, 22-11, after a red hot start from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Notre Dame hit only two field goals in the first half from outside the paint, late threes from senior guard Eric Atkins and junior Pat Connaughton.
Still, despite such a large early deficit, the Irish battled back to a three-point halftime lead, thanks in large part to some of the best work we've seen from embattled senior center Garrick Sherman all season.
Sherman finished with 21 points on 10 of 15 shooting. He keyed the Irish offensive attack along with Atkins, who finished with 17, including a nice 4 of 8 mark from deep.
Georgia Tech was led by Robert Carter, Jr., who tallied 19 points and 11 rebounds despite getting into plenty of foul trouble in the second half. Despite having four fouls, Carter was re-inserted by Jackets head coach Brian Gregory with a few minutes left and nearly energized a Georgia Tech comeback on his own with Notre Dame looking to cruise to victory on its home court.
Following an Eric Atkins three to push the Irish lead to seven, Carter hit threes on back-to-back possessions, making it a game again. These threes sandwiched the no call on a Zach Auguste lay-up in which Auguste's arm got bludgeoned by a Yellow Jacket defender inside.
Still, behind two late free throws by Pat Connaughton (after a great Atkins hustle play to secure an offensive rebound) and a pair of missed threes by Carter on the final Georgia Tech possession, Notre Dame was able to walk away with a victory.
The win was Mike Brey's 300th on the Irish bench, joining Digger Phelps and George Keogan as the only Notre Dame head coaches to reach that mark. Brey celebrated the event by surprisingly keeping one of his timeouts in his back pocket as time expired.
It's hard to overstate how excellent Garrick Sherman was tonight. A guy like that who get ripped apart all season, even if deservedly so in the case of the last three games, deserves the bouquets thrown at his feet after a game like this. He was incredibly active and an unstoppable force in the post, displaying an array of footwork and sleight of hand that, honestly, only a handful of guys in the world are equipped with. I know everyone around here loves the Tommy Rees comparison, but Tommy never did anything as well as Garrick Sherman does low-post moves. Kudos to Garrick, who definitely deserves this one.
Notre Dame currently sits in 10th place in the ACC standings and may want to stay in that position or lower so as to avoid a bye in the ACC tournament. Anything higher, and they will be avoiding a double-digit seeded opponent in the tournament. However, winning that first round game against a lesser opponent would likely ensure at least a .500 record, making inclusion into an, at the very least, experience-boosting postseason tournament more likely.
The Irish have two regular season games left. They host the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday at 2pm before heading to Chapel Hill on Monday night to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels to close out a regular season that has been difficult to swallow for Irish fans.