The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets outlasted the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 82-80 in a back and forth thriller at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. Georgia Tech now advance to 9-6 overall and 5-4 in ACC play.
The Yellow Jackets half court offense came out glaringly stagnant as the Fighting Irish applied the pressure early. With forwards Nate Laszewski and Juwan Durham double teaming in the paint, it was almost impossible for Tech to get the ball moving successfully. Notre Dame’s interior defense was unstoppable to open the night. They formed double and triple coverage no matter if it was smaller guards like Michael Devoe, or a big man in Moses Wright attempting a shot.
Tech’s Jose Alvarado found himself struggling in one on one plays versus Notre Dame’s opposing Prentiss Hubb. Hubb is a scrappy guard who proved he could lock down anyone tonight. When in isolation with Alvarado, Hubb would force him on an island desperately trying to find an open Yellow Jacket before the shot clock expired. Jordan Usher was able to bail Alvarado out a few times and took advantage of his star point guard being in trouble. Usher finished the night with 16 points and two assists.
Offensively, Notre Dame posed even more problems for Georgia Tech. Starting with their ability to finish at the rim. They had no problem getting to the basket as they would often use Durham to draw Moses Wright out of the paint and allow their ball handlers to drive in a clear lane for a bucket. When in the paint, Durham and Laszewski had no issues making a move on Wright for a contested yet feasible score.
“Notre Dame came in playing as well as any team in this league.” Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner stated. “They were hitting on all cylinders and I would compare them to the Golden State Warriors the way they were playing.”
Georgia Tech switched to a full-court press before the half in order to slow the blow from Notre Dame. Tech entered the half down 35-50 but suddenly flipped the switch to open the last twenty minutes of the game. The Fighting Irish seemed to crack under the new pressure as the Jackets opened the second half with a 12-2 run. This was fueled by the full-court press and a pair of catch and shoot threes from Michael Devoe and Bubba Parham. Bubba Parham was back in the starting lineup tonight after missing action due to personal reasons. The Jackets were glad to see him return to the backcourt as he assisted a layup for Alvarado that gave the Jackets the lead with nine minutes remaining. The crowd erupted in cheers that certainly helped fuel the Jackets for the remainder of the game.
Strangely, Notre Dame went away from the double teams that were causing trouble for Tech earlier in the game. This opened up things a great amount for the jackets half-court offense that finally found its rhythm late in the game. With Alvarado and Devoe finding their rhythm, the two teams began to trade buckets for the remainder of the night. Devoe knocked down a contested layup against a much bigger Laszewski to keep the momentum in Tech’s favor. This was followed up by a huge steal that Alvarado forced on Durham as he tried to work in the paint. Jose Alvarado took control of the game late as he usually does and helped carry the Jackets to a win that came down to the last shot. Alvarado finished the night with 19 points, six steals, and five assists. Devoe ended with 19 points as well along with two assists.
“I am proud of my brothers man. We showed we could get punched and keep our hands up.” Jose Alvarado boasted. “We went in the locker room down fifteen and I told my guys we are just going to have to stop and score and chip away.”
Georgia Tech will be back at home to face the No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers on Wednesday. Tech has now won 11 consecutive home ACC games, which is a program record.