The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at home in the first ACC game of the season for the two teams, winning 68 to 59 as Mike Brey tied Digger Phelps for the school record of 393 wins.
The game began slowly for both teams in the first half, as each squad failed to score until the 17:30 mark, when a Ben Lammers jumper opened the floodgates and spurred a flurry of made shots for both sides.
Georgia Tech jumped out to a 17-10 lead, though, on the backs of Lammers, Josh Okogie, and Tadric Jackson, aided by Notre Dame turnovers and missed jump shots.
The Irish closed the gap to 1 after a Rex Pflueger and-one made it 22-21 with about 5 minutes left in the half, but from there it was all Georgia Tech in the most unexciting way, as the Yellow Jackets went on a 6-0 run before giving up a BONZIE COLSON bucket just before the end of the half, giving us a 28-23 GT lead at the intermission.
The 2nd half couldn’t have started differently for Notre Dame, though, as the Irish scored the first 8 points of the half on a Gibbs three, a Geben lay-in, and a BONZIE and-one bucket.
The Irish continued that hot play, as their run made it to 16-6 in the half (and 18-6 since BONZIE’s last 1st half bucket) behind continued excellence from BONZIE and little contributions all-around from role players, including Rex Pflueger and John Mooney, who connected on a great alley-oop slam.
Georgia Tech made a mini-run to cut the Irish lead to 4, but ND began feeding COLSON going to the hoop, which led to Georgia Tech fouls, free throws, and open shooters on the perimeter. Guys like Pflueger took advantage of the open looks on the outside, and with less than 10 minutes to play, ND led 51-40, capping a 7-0 run with a Martinas Geben dunk.
Georgia Tech cut the deficit to 9 by making it 55-46, but a Matt Farrell three after multiple Irish misses and offensive boards brought the score to 58-46 with 4 minutes to play.
From there, the Irish closed the game out without much incident (except for a slick behind-the-back pass from Pflueger to COLSON at one point), coming away with a sloppy, low-scoring, but hard-fought 9-point victory.
BONZIE COLSON finished the game with 22 points and 17 rebounds, while Geben (12 points), Pflueger (11 points), Farrell (10 points), and Gibbs (10 points) all had semi-decent scoring days to make it a balanced but inefficient scoring effort from the Irish starters. The team overall shot 38% from the field and 35% from deep, while getting just 3 points from its bench.
Georgia Tech was led by Josh Okogie with 16 points, and he was spelled by Tadric Jackson (15 points), Ben Lammers (11 points, 12 rebounds), and freshman Jose Alvarado (11 points). The Yellow Jackets shot 38% from the field (23-of-60 — exactly the same as Notre Dame) and 30% from deep. They were out-rebounded by the Irish 45 to 34, and shot an abysmal 39% from the charity stripe, leaving 11 points off the board in missed free throws.
The Irish improve to 11-3 (1-0 in ACC) and will host the NC State Wolfpack on Wednesday evening. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, moves to 6-7 (0-1) and will play the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday night.