Notre Dame hopes to improve shooting on the road against Georgia Tech on Tuesday
Alex Bender | Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Tuesday evening, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team will aim to improve on its tough start in ACC play when the squad make the trip to Atlanta for a matchup against Georgia Tech. This marks the 18th time the two programs have met, with the Yellow Jackets leading the all-time series 10-8.
The Irish (11-7, 1-4 ACC) are coming off a close home loss this past Saturday when No. 17 North Carolina State came to town. Notre Dame hung around throughout the first half and went into the break down just two points to the Wolfpack (15-3, 3-2). This came in large part thanks to a strong 10-4 run to end the half and some solid shooting from 3. In the second half, the Irish were only able to get as close as a one point deficit with roughly 13 minutes remaining, but NC State stayed strong down the stretch to maintain its lead and walk away a narrow 77-73 victory. Leading the way for the Irish throughout the day were freshman guard Dane Goodwin, who tied his career high with 19 points — including 17 in the second half — as well as junior forward John Mooney who tallied his ACC-best 10th double-double of the season. Junior guard T.J. Gibbs added 13 points and five assists.
Irish head coach Mike Brey noted the strong play he’s gotten out of a short bench, particularly the play of Goodwin, who was put in the starting lineup on Saturday.
“That is something to grow on there. For him, he needs to be aggressive, and that is probably the first ACC game where’s been aggressive and felt a part of it,” Brey said. “We started him and maybe that helped him, but man I love that he hunted his shot and drive and was active, so we want to build on that.”
Looking ahead to Tuesday night, the Irish will have a tough test as they head into McCamish Pavilion. The Yellow Jackets (10-8, 2-3) sit at 2-3 on the season in conference play, so both teams will be looking for a much needed win. Brey said he recognizes the challenge his team faces.
“We play a really good team who is hard to score on, and we have a hard time scoring, so that is a bad recipe right now. They don’t necessarily score it a lot, but they really guard you,” Brey said of Georgia Tech. “For us, we’re going to have to make some threes over the top because they have a shot blocker back there in [James] Banks who’s [Juwan] Durham-like. We have got to get some rest tomorrow, and we’ve got to practice for 30 minutes on Monday and then go battle again.”
As Brey alluded during his press conference after the loss to North Carolina State, the offense has struggled shooting the ball as of recent, something the program has traditionally done well under Brey. Now in his 19th season, the Irish head coach is hoping his team can find its rhythm moving forward this year.
“It has been very frustrating for me to not be able to find an offensive rhythm consistently because I think we have some skilled offensive guys out there that are getting looks, and we just haven’t been able to do it,” Brey said. “It just puts so much pressure on your defense … even the other night at North Carolina we hold them to a 38 percent field goal [percentage]. Our defense was really good, but getting into the 70s for us, we should have a parade … so that’s frustrating and we have to keep helping them. If our guys have open looks, we have got to take them. We’ve got nothing to lose.”
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech will get underway Tuesday night at 7 p.m. as the Irish hope to back on track in conference play.