SOUTH BEND, In. — Now that the holiday season has come and gone, conference play has arrived in the college basketball world, and for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, their first game was against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who they defeated 68-59.
Coming into this game, the Yellow Jackets were 6-6 on the season, with some close losses to a variety of small school teams. To most, a team with a 6-6 record may not scare people. But, considering the history of close games that the Irish and Yellow Jackets have had, Georgia Tech was capable of beating a 10-3 Irish team.
Regardless of their losses to lesser competition, Georgia Tech brought their A-game against the Irish, who have been very successful against the Yellow Jackets at home.
After a scoreless two and a half minutes to open the game, Georgia Tech’s Ben Lammers opened the scoring as the Yellow Jackets built up a small lead over Notre Dame, taking advantage of some sloppy play by Irish.
Notre Dame managed to bring the deficit back within one point with just over five minutes remaining, but the Yellow Jackets never let the Irish lead once in the entire first half.
It was not the best shooting performance for the Fighting Irish, as they shot just 33.3% from the field and 30% from three point range. On the other hand, the Yellow Jackets, who went into half up 28-23, shot 38% from the field and 37% beyond the arc.
As the second half got underway, Notre Dame went on a quick 5-0 run to take their first lead of the game, shaking off some rust they had in the opening half.
Bonzie Colson was having a game for himself, recording a double double just six minutes into the second half, providing much of the scoring for the Irish.
Colson finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds, in addition to three blocks and two steals.
Notre Dame built up a 14-point lead against the Yellow Jackets, thanks to an 11-1 run with six minutes to go. This looked to be the point where the Irish started to run off with the game.
The Fighting Irish did not manage to put the game out of reach, as Georgia Tech had some fight left in them. Even after Josh Okogie connected on back-to-back three pointers, Notre Dame’s stellar free throw shooting helped them maintain their lead with every Georgia Tech point scored.
Notre Dame went on to win this low scoring contest, 68-59, sending them into the New Year on a positive note.
Georgia Tech had four players that recorded double digit figures with Josh Okogie leading the Yellow Jackets in points with 16 and Ben Lammers grabbing the most rebounds, at 12, behind an 11 point scoring performance.
While the bench produced a combined three points, Notre Dame starting five did not disappoint as all five recorded double digit points in the win.
Martinas Geben contributed 12 points and five rebounds, while guards Matt Farrell and T.J. Gibbs each added 10 points. Rex Pflueger had himself an outstanding game, dropping 11 points, grabbing seven boards, and dishing six assists while also forcing one steal.
With their win over Georgia Tech, Head Coach Mike Brey is now tied with former Notre Dame legendary coach Digger Phelps in all time wins in South Bend.
Now that their first ACC game is in the books, Notre Dame will now turn their attention to the NC State Wolfpack, who are 10-3 on the season so far. Tip off between the Irish and the Wolfpack will be at 9 PM on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018, broadcasting live on the ACC Network.
– R. Scarfone