Observations: Notre Dame Squanders Big Halftime Lead, Loses At Georgia Tech
Notre Dame let a 15-point halftime advantage slip away and lost at Georgia Tech 82-80 on Saturday night.
The defeat ended a two-game win streak for the Irish and dropped their record to 7-10 and 4-7 in the ACC. Their road trip continues Tuesday at Duke. Georgia Tech improved to 9-6 and 5-4 in conference play.
Here are some observations from the game.
• No, Notre Dame’s defense in the second half – or final 25 minutes, really – wasn’t great and allowed too much off the dribble, but this one falls on the offense too. Notre Dame turned the ball over on 26.5 percent of its possessions after halftime, negating 52 percent shooting. The result? Georgia Tech had 18 fast-break points. Easy to storm back when the opponent throws the ball away nine times in a half and can’t set its defense.
• May as well count these final-minute miscues as turnovers too: a missed front end of a one-and-one and the final possession where Notre Dame never took a shot. The Irish led 76-70 with 6:03 left and made one field goal the rest of the way.
• Georgia Tech exploded from a 50-35 halftime hole with the help of two things Notre Dame should’ve seen coming: Senior guard Jose Alvarado’s pocket-picking ability and intermittent use of a full-court press. Alvarado, the ACC’s steal leader, swiped the ball six times. Notre Dame committed two turnovers against that press at or behind the half-court line.
• Back to the defense: By unofficial count, Notre Dame ended with 15 stop-scores. It had 17 last time out against Wake Forest. In addition to the dribble containment issues, Notre Dame suffered from too many miscommunications and instances where a defender lost his man off ball. The Irish switched between man-to-man and a couple zone variants throughout the game.
• This was a confounding game from point guard Prentiss Hubb. The senior had 15 points and 10 assists, the fifth time in six games he has topped nine helpers. Toward the end, though, some careless passes and wild drives into traffic slowed Notre Dame’s offense. He committed four turnovers and was 2-for-9 from the floor in the second half.
• Hubb had no trouble slicing Georgia Tech’s ball-screen defense that tried to trap him up top until Georgia Tech tweaked its coverage in the second half. He split the traps and had six assists in ball screen sets to forward Juwan Durham, forward Nate Laszewski or forward Nik Djogo. Georgia Tech frequently didn’t sent help or had late help on the roller, creating easy point-blank buckets after Hubb split the traps.
• The first half and the non-turnover moments sure looked nothing like the team that slogged to 51 points in a Jan. 27 loss to Virginia Tech. Notre Dame dropped 50 in the first half – a conference-game program record since joining the ACC – on 65.5 percent shooting, with only two turnovers against 12 assists.
• The overall shot selection and generation was strong. Notre Dame shot 59 percent (32-of-54) and took 47 of its field goal attempts at the rim or from three-point range. Twenty of the 32 makes were assisted. Four players hit double-figure scoring, led by Laszewski’s 27 points.
• In a good development, Laszewski was 4-for-6 on three-pointers. He was 4-for-14 in his prior seven games combined, the lack attempts of more concern than the poor percentage. Even if he was 1-for-6 Saturday, the increased volume would’ve been an encouraging sign. He hadn’t taken more than four threes in a game once since Jan. 2.
• Durham delivered another fine game. He had 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting and dished out three assists. The decision-making was sound once again.
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