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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

The schedule makers must have had a dark sense of humor when they sent Georgia Tech (10-14, 3-10 ACC) to Notre Dame on Valentine’s Day.

For the past decade, South Bend has been a place of unending heartbreak and unrequited pursuits for the Yellow Jackets, who have dropped all nine of their games at Notre Dame since the Fighting Irish joined the ACC in 2013.

Streaking team?  Slumping team?  It hasn’t mattered.  Purcell Pavilion may be known for its legendarily nice ushers, but that kindness has only gone so far in lessening the Jackets’ misery.

So if Valentine’s Day in South Bend doesn’t exactly evoke romance, maybe it can evoke revenge for Tech.  Notre Dame (8-16, 3-10 ACC) snapped a road losing streak at McCamish Pavilion last month.  Can the Yellow Jackets return the favor and bring their South Bend drought to an overdue end?  Enjoy the top notes from my chart as Tech seeks to get the ending right in South Bend (7 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Miles Kelly’s 36 points at Louisville was the most by a Tech player since assistant coach B.J. Elder against North Carolina in 2004. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

A couple weeks ago, B.J. Elder was reminiscing with Miles Kelly about his 36-point performance against North Carolina in January of 2004.

“I shook his hand and said I want it to rub it off on him, he said.

The manifesting clearly paid off.  On Saturday Kelly poured in 36 points against Louisville, the most by a Yellow Jacket in an ACC game since … Elder’s 36 against North Carolina.

No offense B.J., but Miles may have one-upped you.  He also scored the most points by a Yellow Jacket in a road ACC game since Dennis Scott had 36 against Duke on January 28, 1990.

*****

Kelly scored 25 points and tied a career high with seven three-pointers against Notre Dame last month, but as a team the Yellow Jackets only mustered 37-percent field goal shooting against the Irish.  They may be 3-10 in the ACC, but Notre Dame once again brings in some surprisingly salty defensive numbers:

Notre Dame (ACC only)
CategoryAverageACC rank
Defensive Efficiency0.99 PPP3rd
FG% defense40.60%2nd

The Irish excel at packing the paint, hustling hard on recoveries, and limiting clean looks from three.  Along with playing at the most controlled pace this side of Virginia (No. 336 NCAA Tempo), even the most gifted offenses are under constant strain to maximize possessions.

Notre Dame typically plays drop coverage on pick-and-rolls, but given teams’ success playing physically in that action against the Jackets, will head coach Micah Shrewsberry dial up more pressure on Wednesday?  Naithan George, looking to shrug off his first zero-assist game since his debut, dished out a career-high 11 assists against the Irish last month.

*****

How snake bitten has Georgia Tech been with its opponents’ free throw shooting lately?  Consider this:

  • Wake Forest tied a Tech school record for most made free throws in a game without a miss (17-17).
  • Louisville became the first Tech opponent in the last 13 years to shoot better than 90 percent on more than 30 free throw attempts (31 of 34).

Naturally, Notre Dame connected on 19 of 21 free throws in its win over Tech last month.  If it’s any consolation, the Irish rank 14th in the ACC, scoring just 15.8 percent of their points off free throws in conference play.

Coach Stoudamore joked on his radio show Monday that Kowacie Reeves, Jr., could raise his fortunes with a hair color change. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Their defense remains solid, but scoring remains a grind for Notre Dame, which sprays threes at one of the higher rates in the ACC yet ranks last in the league in offensive efficiency.

Like last month, the Irish are led by guard Markus Burton (16.2 ppg), a 5-11 hummingbird who earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors following an 18-point, 8-assist, 6-steal performance in Notre Dame’s win over Virginia Tech.  Burton flits around the perimeter constantly, keeping his dribble active while looking for bursts to the paint or stop-on-a-dime pull-ups.  Tech, however, held him to 4 of 18 shooting at McCamish, his second lowest field goal percentage in a game this season.

The Fighting Irish overcame that thanks to a career-high 25 points (5-9 3pt.) from freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry (9.4 ppg), a cerebral catch-and-shoot artist who moves well off the ball.  The Irish are still turnover-prone – Tech recorded a season-high +16 in points off turnovers in January – but they make up for it by being dogged offensive rebounders.

Georgia Tech – Points off TO’s

  • vs. Notre Dame: +16
  • vs. Rest of ACC: -71

According to Stoudamire, Tech did a good job staying home on ball screens and not overcommitting on Notre Dame’s ballhandlers.  Can they speed up the Irish’s sets and squeeze out stops against a Notre Dame team that’s coming off a 49 percent shooting performance against Virginia Tech?

*****

After an off-kilter week in which he shot 1-of-14, including his first scoreless game of the year versus Louisville, Damon Stoudamire believes he’s found the answer to changing Kowacie Reeves’ fortunes.

“I said, man, you gotta color your eyebrows and color your hair back,” Stoudamire joked on his radio show.  “I hadn’t seen him with the black hair since he got here.”

That shouldn’t be a problem for Reeves, whose kaleidoscopic cranium has been a hit with Georgia Tech fans.  Last month Reeves came to McCamish Pavilion sporting a magenta-and-black dotted hair style; it turns out he dyed it in the time between the Yellow Jackets’ shootaround and his return to the arena.  His ranginess could be needed against the likes of 6-7 J.R. Konieczny, 6-10 Carey Booth and 6-9 Tae Davis, who had a double-double against the Jackets in January.

*****

Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports.  See you in South Bend.

-AD-

 


Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of the development of Yellow Jackets that thrive academically at the Institute and compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first year under head coach Damon Stoudamire. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won four ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993, 2021), played in the NCAA Tournament 17 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.

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