The Irish were led by Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” Geben, who put up a career-high 16 points and also snagged 9 rebounds. TJ Gibbs added 11 points and 7 assists, and John Mooney chipped his own career-high of 11 to go with 8 boards.
Rex Pflueger had a horrific offensive game, shooting 0-of-8 from the field, although he did contribue 6 assists. DJ Harvey struggled for much of the game as well, only scoring 6 points on a pair of three-pointers. Overall, the Irish shot 36% from the field, 22% from 3, and made 7-of-12 from the free throw line.
The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, were led by Josh Okogie, who dropped in 17 points to go along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Ben Lammers added 10 and 10, Tadric Jackson had 11 and 9, and Abdoulaye Gueye chipped in 8 and 6. Georgia Tech shot 42% from the field and from deep, and out-rebounded the Irish 39-33.
The first half did not go very well for the Fighting Irish, as they shot 8-of-31 from the floor as a team (26%), and 0-for-9 from deep. The game was a slow-moving, somewhat sloppy affair for the first 12 minutes or so, with the two teams exchanging leads as guys like Martinas Geben (had a thunderous dunk!!!) and John Mooney were scoring for ND (the team’s leading scorers at the half with 6 and 8 points, respectively) and Josh Okogie, Abdoulaye Gueye, and Ben Lammers were picking up buckets for the Yellow Jackets.
After the Irish took an 18-17 lead at around the 9-minute mark, though, Georgia Tech went on a 13-0 run over a span of about 7 minutes and 30 seconds. This run was punctuated by an alley-oop to Lammers from Tadric Jackson and by multiple made shots each by Gueye and Jackson.
By the time John Mooney finally hit a couple free throws to make it 30-20, it was about halftime, and the period ended with that same score after a couple more sloppy Irish possessions. The starting Irish guards (TJ Gibbs, Rex Pflueger, and DJ Harvey) combined to shoot 1-for-16 and score 2 points while also committing 5 turnovers.
After an absolute slew of Addiction Network commercials on my ESPNU stream on WatchESPN (seriously, my roommate and I saw that commercial — this is a conservative estimate — 25 times), the second half got underway, and it began a little better for ND, as TJ Gibbs immediately got a bucket on a nice drive to the hoop.
However, after that bucket, it was more of the same for the Irish, as they struggled to score on the Georgia Tech defense and the Yellow Jackets continued to convert on some good looks.
With the score 35-26 at the under-16 timeout, Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” Geben was the only Irish player who looked like he knew what he was doing, knocking down a jumper and getting another nice bucket on a TJ Gibbs feed.
After the timeout, the Irish came out and got a steal and a three by Nikola Djogo to make it a 6-point deficit with 15 minutes remaining, but the Yellow Jackets responded with a basket of their own go up 37-29.
The Irish, undeterred as this team perpetually is, roared back with Gibbs and Geben leading a 9-2 run, forcing the Yellow Jackets to cling to a 39-38 lead with 10:28 to play at the under-12 timeout.
From there, the Yellow Jackets went on a 13-5 run to take an 8-point lead, but DJ Harvey finally broke out of his slump and hit a big 3 to cut it to 6 with 6:30 remaining.
Another Harvey 3 cut the Georgia Tech lead to 54-51 with less than 4 to play, but Lammers immediately responded with an easy bucket around Geben.
But from there, the Irish couldn’t get basically anything to fall, and when they did, Georgia Tech came back and got a bucket in response. The Yellow Jackets closed things out from the free throw line, and took the game 60 to 53.
Notre Dame falls to 13-4 on the season and 3-1 in the ACC, while Georgia Tech improved to 9-7 and 2-1 in ACC play.
The Irish’s next game will be Saturday evening against the #20 North Carolina Tar Heels at 6 PM ET at Purcell Pavilion.
Play us out, Mike.