InsideNDSports - Notre Dame locks up tourney double-bye with romp over Georgia Tech
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Notre Dame locks up tourney double-bye with romp over Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe (0) looks to shoot as Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson Jr. (20) defends, Saturday at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind.
Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe (0) looks to shoot as Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson Jr. (20) defends, Saturday at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports Network)

Notre Dame was dominating so consistently and decisively on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion that even the Irish student section started looking ahead.

Way ahead.

“One more year. One more year,” the chants from the stands showered freshman and NBA prospect Blake Wesley after he canned a couple of free throws late in the second half of the most lopsided ND victory of the season to date, 90-56 over Georgia Tech.

Against a team that took the Irish to overtime on Jan. 8 in Atlanta, no less.

Notre Dame (21-8, 14-4 ACC) can safely look ahead to a double-bye and no worse than a No. 3 seed in the ACC men’s basketball tournament, March 8-12, in Brooklyn, N.Y., thanks to its record-trying 14th ACC victory.

A triumph Wednesday on the road at Florida State (15-13, 8-10) moves the Irish up to at least a 2 seed.

“We're better than I thought we’d be,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, who spent a good chunk of his postgame press conference reflecting on the bigger picture.

Senior forward Dane Goodwin had 17 points in the first 17 minutes of the game, shooting 6-of-7 from the field — 3-of-4 from 3 — as the Irish built a 38-19 command. He took one shot the rest of the game and missed.

Wesley added 15 points and four rebounds. Prentiss Hubb had 13 points and six assists, while Paul Atkinson Jr. added 10 points. Cormac Ryan helped the Irish to a 42-29 advantage on the roads with a game-high 10.

The Irish shot 57 percent from the field, 57 percent from the arc — with 13 3s — and recorded 21 assists on 32 made field goals.

“It really starts with Hubb quarterbacking us the right way,” Brey said. “I’m so impressed with the way Blake Wesley has learned how to be a more efficient guard.

“One of the phrases we’ve used with this team is, ‘You’re winners and you’re learners.’ It's really rewarding, as the teacher, to have students like this.”

Some seldom-used reserves got a chance to learn in a game setting late in the second half. Junior Elijah Morgan scored his first six points of the season, all from the free throw line. Freshman J.R. Konieczny set a new career high with four points.

Jordan Usher led Georgia Tech (11-18, 4-14) with 16 points. The Yellow Jackets have lost six of their last seven.

Notre Dame was 4-5 overall on Dec. 3 after getting bullied by Boston College, 73-57, in their ACC opener. Since then, the Irish have been 17-3, and are well on the right side of the bubble for their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2017.

They still mathematically have a shot to win or share the ACC title, but Notre Dame needs Duke to lose at least once — either Tuesday at Pitt or Saturday at home against North Carolina.

“In our profession, you’re going to get put on the mat,” Brey said. “You’re going to get put up against it. That probably was the third time I was put on the mat in 22 years. Fortunately, I’ve had great support. And people have had my back, hung with me, my bosses.

“I felt if we could get it right with staff and get it right with how we come at them in the summer, I felt like we could be really good. I really am proud of how they’ve figured themselves out at 4-5.

“It’s a great example of the coaching profession. You just hang in there and keep working and grinding.”

BOX SCORE

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