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Irish Slip Up at Georgia Tech, 63-62

A horrendous jump ball call paves the way for a Marcus Georges-Hunt game-winner in Atlanta.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sluggish first half, dominant second half. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-8, 9-5) have been going with that recipe for a little while now, and to great effect.

For most of the second half Saturday night against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (15-12, 5-9), it looked like the Irish would be able to use it yet again for another ACC victory. But Notre Dame closed very poorly this time, scoring only one field goal in the last four-plus minutes after they had extended their largest lead of the game at six.

They had plenty of chances to essentially close it out, so perhaps they have no one to blame but themselves for a horrific jump ball call that gave the Jackets the ball with 17 seconds left after Quinton Stephens, quite literally, jumped on Demetrius Jackson's head while Jackson was laying on the ground with possession of the ball.

That possession opened the door for Marcus Georges-Hunt to steal the victory, and he did just that, earning a tough lay-up over Steve Vasturia that just had enough spin to roll over the front of the rim and in for the dramatic, one-point Yellow Jacket victory.

It was a fitting cap to perhaps Notre Dame's worst offensive effort in conference play this season. Their 62 points were a season-low, and they were well below season averages from 2, 3, and the free throw line. Four starters hit double-figures, but just barely, as Zach Auguste and V.J. Beachem led with 13, with Jackson close behind at 12 and Bonzie Colson with 10.

Jackson and Vasturia struggled, combining for 8 of 23 from the field and 2 of 9 from three. Still, the Irish did turn up the heat defensively in the second half, which nearly allowed them to complete yet another comeback and earn a hard-fought road victory. But the early deficit did not allow them to build enough cushion for that bad of a collapse down the stretch.

Road wins are tough to come by, but this is one that Notre Dame should've had. They did nothing particularly well all game long and still found themselves up 6 in time for the final TV timeout. That should've been their time to close it out, but they could not.

The loss likely drops the Irish from any real contention for the ACC regular season title, but Duke's loss Saturday leaves Notre Dame in position for that 4th double-bye by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreaker. That said, the pressure is really on for the Irish to score a 2-0 week next week on the road at Wake Forest and Florida State.