After a pair of aggravating losses the previous week, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish temporarily got back on track with a 78-74 victory at Georgia Tech last Wednesday night. The win marked the lone game on the Irish schedule for the week, allowing the team an opportunity to get rested up for the collection of home games over the next few weeks.
With the victory over Tech, Notre Dame now holds an 11-6 overall record, but a 2-4 mark within the tough ACC. Moving up will be a challenge, with the Irish now four games behind the two conference leaders. From their own perspective, they currently find themselves relegated to the lowest tier of the ACC’s 15 teams.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review
The tightly-contested clash in Atlanta wasn’t decided until the final minutes, with neither team having more than a seven-point lead the entire game. The first half was marked by a series of lead changes, with the Irish taking their largest lead of the game with 6:33 left in the first half on a Dane Goodwin three-pointer.
Leading 29-27 at the half, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech both struggled with their outside shots in the opening minutes after the break. The Yellow Jackets looked to be taking control when they put together a 12-6 run that gave them a 47-41 lead midway through the second half, but the Irish scored nine of the next 11 points to take back the lead.
A trio of deadlocks followed, the last coming at 56 with just 5:27 left in the game. :Less than a minute later, Prentiss Hubb’s three-pointer gave the Irish the lead for good, with a series of clutch shots helping Mike Brey’s squad hold on to the lead. The key baskets in the stretch were Hubb’s layup with 1:37 left and T.J. Gibbs delivering the kill shot on a three-pointer with 1:04 to play. Notre Dame then notched all eight of their final points at the free throw line.
Notre Dame Standouts of the Week
The sophomore guard scored a career-high 25 points, while also grabbing four rebounds, handing out three assists and collecting a pair of steals. His aforementioned clutch shooting was also a crucial part of the Irish victory, while his frequent trips down the line in the closing minutes served as another career-high for free throws made in a game.
T. J. Gibbs
The senior guard tossed in 17 points on the night, his 14th double-digit performance of the season. In addition, he grabbed three rebounds and provided Notre Dame with a late cushion with his three-pointer to hold off the furious comeback bid of Georgia Tech. Over the past five games, his outside shot has been clicking, connecting on 63 percent of his shots over that period.
The senior center delivered another solid, all-around performance, managing to keep his double-double streak going with his 11th consecutive effort in that category. He scored 10 points, hauled down 13 boards, had three steals and blocked a pair of shots. The lone blot on his night was his shooting touch, which saw him hit at his second-lowest rate of the year, though his last shot of the night offered the Irish some breathing room late in the game.
Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead
With every game becoming that much more important, this week’s two contests could help determine if Notre Dame plans on making a determined bid to move up or whether they’ll be relegated to the lower level of the ACC. The first test will come on Wednesday night, when they host the Syracuse Orangemen, with this series seeing both teams split the last six contests before the Irish faithful.
A much more challenging task awaits Notre Dame on Saturday night as they travel to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles, who are in a three-way tie for the top spot in the ACC. History, as well as a rabid partisan fan base is against the Irish, with all four previous meetings in the Sunshine State having gone in favor of the Seminoles.