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Notre Dame Basketball

Lights-out in Georgia: Irish melt in loss to Georgia Tech

February 6, 2021
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No awareness.

No timeouts.

And according to their head coach, not enough toughness, either.

Thus, no more win streak.

Notre Dame, which led by 17 points in the first half Saturday at Georgia Tech and 15 to open the second half, melted inside McAmish Pavilion in an 82-80 loss to the host Yellow Jackets (9-6, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Tech clawed back into the game with a 12-2 run out of intermission and the two teams waged a see-saw battle for the duration.

“We sure didn't start the second half like the last two games,” said Irish coach Mike Brey. “They're athletic, they're hard to guard one-on-one off the dribble. The zone bought us some time in the second half. I don't think our compete-drill mentality was very good tonight when we had to just put a chest on a guy. I told them that afterwards, that's really where we got beat.”

The Fighting Irish (7-10, 4-7) had the lead for more than 35 minutes in their bid to hand Tech its first conference home loss this season. They had a chance to tie the game or force overtime after Juwan Durham helped force a Tech miss with six seconds to play.

After Prentiss Hubb raced to the offensive end, the Irish junior guard dished to Cormac Ryan. Covered up on the play, Ryan shuttled the ball back to Hubb – who's desperation heave launched after the buzz and clanged harmlessly to the wayside.

Notre Dame had just one timeout for the final nine minutes of the contest; Brey signaled for that last stoppage with 1:57 left in regulation.

So why was the Irish's “compete-drill mentality” lacking?

“I think they were … they're better athletes than us,” Brey said. “They out-athleted us. It's happened a bunch to us this season. We're not going to all of a sudden get more athletic this season.”

Nate Laszewski paced the Irish with 27 – game-best – and connected on 11 of 13 from the floor. But the Jackets commanded a 22-12 scoring edge in fast-break points.

The loss was the exact opposite of how Notre Dame had played to win four of its previous five games. The Irish started strong defensively but then allowed their hosts to hit on 20-for-32 field goals in the second half – including four of six from 3-point range.

After the Yellow Jackets missed their first seven shots to open the game, they finished the contest 35-for-53 – better than 66%.

“We just got to get back to that compete-mentality and getting stops on the defensive end,” Laszewski said. “I think we just have to stay locked in. Keep holding each other accountable. Keep locked in defensively and know we've got to do it for a full 40 (minutes).”

The Irish were absolutely unstoppable offensively in the opening half. Torching the Yellow Jackets for 50 first-half points, they got double-digit efforts in the opening 20 minutes from Juwan Durham, Prentiss Hubb and Laszewski. The trio combined for 37 of the 50 points; Dane Goodwin added nine.

Durham finished with 18 points. Hubb again engineered a dazzling double-double; he finished with 15 points and 10 assists.

Notre Dame connected on 19-for-29 shots from the floor as it constructed the 15-point halftime edge, 50-35; it also sank six of 13 from 3-point range.

The Irish doled out 12 assists and committed just two turnovers into the break. They were still effective enough from the floor in the second half, when they hit on 13 of 25 attempts. But they converted just one of five second-half 3-pointers and also managed to hit only three of their six free-throw attempts.

Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe paced Tech with 19 points apiece; Jordan Usher added 16.

Notre Dame's two-game road-trip continues Tuesday at Duke, which suffered a narrow home loss to heated rival North Carolina Saturday night. Tip at Cameron Indoor is 4:30 p.m. (ACC Network).

The Irish return home on Valentine's Day against Miami (6 p.m., ACC Network).

“It's up to them, man,” Brey said. “It's up to them. Got a nice group of kids. I got no speeches for them, baby. Let's see how they do, circling back and see how we play Tuesday. There's no rah-rah B.S.

“We didn't finish it, didn't get it done. Grow up and get another chance on the road on Tuesday.”

 
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