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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Fights and Grinds Past Georgia Tech 58-55

February 14, 2024

Notre Dame (9-16, 4-10) doesn’t play a sexy style of basketball, but Micah Shrewsberry and his team won’t apologize for it. 

Wednesday night in Purcell Pavilion certainly won’t be remembered by most who watched as Notre Dame topped Georgia Tech (10-15, 3-11) 58-55 in what was a messy basketball game for large stretches. 

Notre Dame shot just 32 percent from the floor and just 19 percent from deep, but the Irish made timely baskets, which haven’t always come over the course of the season.

The biggest bucket of the day came from Tae Davis, who scored finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Davis inbounded the ball from around halfcourt with about three seconds on the shot clock, but got it back and scored a layup to put the Irish up 56-53 with just over a minute to play. 

Freshman Markus Burton kept Notre Dame in the game with his usual line of 18 points and five assists. 

Ibrahima Sacko led three Georgia Tech players in double figures with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. 

In a year of transition, Shrewsberry has preached to his team that the smallest detail can lead to big things on the court. It’s been a process going from recognizing the open man to being in the right spot on defense. 

Kebba Njie has embraced the mindset and made the game-sealing play in the final seconds. 

Burton missed a jumper with eight seconds to go in the game, but Njie tipped the ball out and the Irish made a couple passes before the Yellow Jackets could foul the Irish point guard with 1.2 seconds remaining. 

“That’s just game-winning plays,” stated Shrewsberry. “He had played the whole second half and was battling and battling. He never gave up at any point in time. He just made that play and made that tip out, which is big-time.” 

You won’t see Njie with a shot attempt in the stat sheet, yet it’s a play that shows much more than a bucket. Njie is an example of buying into Shrewsberry’s messaging and doing the little things to help earn a win. 

“We said before the game do whatever it takes today from you individually to help us win,” explained Shrewsberry. “Kebba didn’t get a field goal attempt tonight. Some dudes will pout when that happens. He kept playing and making big-time plays. That was great. I thought his defense down the stretch was good. We quit letting them score layups and dunks.” 

The shots weren’t falling for Notre Dame as the percentages show. On paper, it might look even rougher as 5-for-26 from three doesn’t scream victory. 

That said, Notre Dame found a way to win by winning the boards 40-31, including 16 offensive rebounds that turned into 20 second-chance points. 

“Like we said, whatever it takes,” Shrewsberry said. “I thought everybody chipped in just like the other day. Guys did different things. To see JR (Konieczny) get a couple of shots to go in - to see that joy in his face again and how he was playing. That’s awesome for me to see.” 

For comparison, Georgia Tech had just five offensive rebounds and nine second-chance points. The extra effort matters in all games, but especially in one-possession games and Notre Dame hit the glass hard. 

“We needed them,” said Shrewsberry. “For as many shots as we missed, we had plenty of chances to get some back. You don’t get them back without effort. You look down the line, Kebba had three, Tae had two, (Julian) Roper had two, (Matt) Zona had two. Those were big plays and more cracks at it. 

“I think about Braeden made one three and it was a Zona offensive rebound. Zona’s offensive rebounds per minute are crazy right now. He gets in there and gets offensive rebounds in a short amount of time.” 

Notre Dame has needed a second scorer for most of the year and it’s been by committee. Davis has always been a candidate as his ability to get the rim from the perimeter is a skill lacking on the Irish roster. 

Entering the game, Davis had scored in double-figures just twice since ACC play started and hadn’t taken more than 10 field goals in a game since December 5th.

That changed on Wednesday as the 6-foot-9 forward finished 6-of-12 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line. 

”They played off of him a little bit, so he has some driving lanes,” said Shrewsberry. “I thought a couple of times he drove it kind of passively and didn’t quite get fouled or an and-1. I thought in the second half he really drove the ball aggressively, got fouled, scoring and got to the free throw line. He just adds another piece.

“His ability as a defender is special. He can play. He can guard anybody. He’s going to have a chance, and now when he’s doing that and on the other end, he’s attacking the rim and scoring and getting on the offensive glass, it’s really helpful for us.” 

Notre Dame will get a seven-day break from play as the next game will be next Wednesday at Louisville. Tip is set for 7:00 PM ET.  

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