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Hoops Preview: Notre Dame At Georgia Tech

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NOTRE DAME (17-4, 6-2) at GEORGIA TECH (12-8, 4-4)

Where: McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga. (8,600)

Rankings: Notre Dame is ranked 14th in the AP poll; Georgia Tech is unranked.

Time/TV: Noon/ESPNU

Matchup History: Notre Dame and Georgia Tech meet for the 15th time on Saturday afternoon, with the Yellow Jackets holding an 8-6 all-time series lead. Notre Dame has won four of the last five games and is 4-2 since joining the ACC. The Yellow Jackets did win the most recent matchup, a 63-62 victory in Atlanta Feb. 2, 2016.

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Yellow Jackets guard Tadric Jackson (left) drives against Irish forward Bonzie Colson during the first half of last year's game at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. Saturday is the 15th all-time meeting between the programs, with Georgia Tech holding an 8-6 advantage.
USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Notes

Notre Dame will look to get back to its winning ways Saturday, traveling to Atlanta for a noon matchup with Georgia Tech.

Their last time out, the Irish were crushed 71-54 by Virginia. The focus now is to move on and beat Georgia Tech before a quick turnaround game against Duke at home on Monday.

“It’s just like when we were in the midst of winning five in a row,” Brey said on his radio show Thursday. “We turn the page quickly on wins to get prepared for the next one, and in the heat of battle in the regular season and the league it is this year, you gotta move on quick.”

The Irish are 3-1 on the road in the ACC this season.

“We need to really play like [Georgia Tech] and let it rip and be loose,” Brey said. “Especially on the road. That’s how we play. We’ve played like that on the road. I really need that demeanor back again on Saturday, and we’ve got to go for it.

Other notes:

• The Yellow Jackets are ranked 77th on the by KenPom; the Irish are 23rd. Georgia Tech was predicted to finish 14th in the 15-team ACC.

• Notre Dame associate head coach Rod Balanis is a 1994 graduate of Georgia Tech. Balanis has been an assistant under Brey during his entire tenure at Notre Dame.

• With 17 victories in 2016-17, the Irish are one win away from matching the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 teams for a program-best 74 wins in a three-year span.

Matt Farrell — Ranks third in the ACC in assists with 5.7 per game.

Steve Vasturia — Seventh among active career scorers in the ACC with 1,240 points and fourth in career assists with 280.

V.J. Beachem — Needs 10 points this season to reach 1,000 for his career.

Bonzie Colson — Has 13 games this season with 10-plus rebounds. He had five such games entering this season.

Martinas Geben — Grabbing 11.1 percent of available offensive rebounds, second on the team to Colson (12.4%, 92nd nationally).

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Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner (right) is in his first season with the Yellow Jackets.
USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech Overview

The Yellow Jackets have a first-year coach in Josh Pastner, who came over from Memphis after seven seasons with the Tigers.

Pastner’s first year at Georgia Tech has produced some huge wins, including a 75-63 victory over No. 9 North Carolina in the ACC opener Dec. 31 and a 78-56 win over No. 6 Florida State on Wednesday.

“Now we play a Georgia Tech team that just bumped Florida State,” Brey said. “They got them down 30. They’re very confident at home, and they beat North Carolina, so yet another example of this league being, by far, the best and deepest league in college basketball.”

Freshman guard Josh Okogie — a 6-foot-5 Snellville, Ga., native — leads the team in scoring at 15.6 a game. He has scored in double figures in every ACC game, and is averaging 19.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg and is shooting 49 percent in league games.

Against Florida State, Okogie scored 35 points and had and became the first ACC player with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in a game since A.D. Vassallo (Virginia Tech - March, 2009)

While Georgia Tech has struggled offensively — with a 46.8 effective field-goal percentage, 298th in the country — defense has been a strength. Pastner’s team is ranked 17th in the country in effective field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 45.1 percent.

Six-foot-10 junior forward Ben Lammers is a big part of the defensive success. He ranks 31st in the country in block percentage (9.9), the key to the Yellow Jackets’ 20th ranked two-point field-goal percentage defense (43.0).

Florida State shot a miserable 28 percent against Georgia Tech and was just 6-of-25 from 3. Pastner schemed up the Seminoles, rolling out a number of exotic defensive looks, including a stout 1-3-1 zone.

“We can’t play safe, but we’re going to have to defend, and they’re gonna play probably six different zone defenses against us,” Brey said. “…I hope we can attack the zone looks they give us like we did against Syracuse.”

Lammers averages 14.7 points a game and is also the team’s top rebounder, averaging 9.7 a game.

Outlook

The Yellow Jackets have showed they can pull off an upset on their home floor, but the Irish should be ready for this one. The combination of Farrell and Vasturia should be enough to lift Notre Dame in a bounce back game.

Prediction: Notre Dame 71, Georgia Tech 65

Vegas Spread: Notre Dame -6

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