Notre Dame begins ACC play with a home game Saturday against Georgia Tech, and coach Mike Brey hopes the Fighting Irish can continue their stellar guard play of late. The Irish won 10 of their 13 non-conference games thanks in part to the play of T.J. Gibbs, Rex Pfluger and Matt Farrell, who combined for 52 points in a Dec. 21 victory over Southeastern Louisiana and who have smoothly conducted an offense ranked second in the nation for fewest turnovers per game.
“It was kind of neat to see all three of our guards in such a good offensive rhythm,” Brey told reporters after the 86-50 win over the Lions. “We’re going to need that a number of nights in ACC play.” The non-conference slate was anything but kind to Georgia Tech, which split its first 12 games with losses to Grambling, Wofford and Wright State. The Yellow Jackets dodged an even worse loss Wednesday against winless Coppin State, rallying for a 76-62 victory after trailing with 10 minutes remaining. “We had a lot more poise than I think we’ve had in the past when we were down in the second half,” Georgia Tech center Ben Lammers told the media after scoring 22 points with 11 rebounds in the victory.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (6-6): Lammers, who has been slowed with an ankle injury for most of December, is averaging 13 points and 8.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the field. Josh Okogie leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring at 18.5 points per game, while Tadric Jackson is averaging 15.9 points while shooting 51.8 percent from the field. Georgia Tech ranks 38th in the nation in scoring defense (64.7 points per game) but its offense has been inconsistent in scoring just 67.2 points per contest – 309th nationally.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (10-3): Forward Bonzie Colson, the reigning ACC player of the week, is 28th in the nation in scoring at 21.3 point while shooting 54.1 percent from the field. Farrell has contributed 16.8 points and is shooting 40.7 percent from 3-point range, helping the Irish rank 29th in the country in shooting from long range (40.1 percent). Notre Dame is committing just 9.2 turnovers per contest and ranks 10th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57).
1. Colson averaged 26.5 points in two games last week, including a career-high 37 points on 15-of-21 shooting against Dartmouth.
2. Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner told reporters after Wednesday’s game that Curtis Haywood II (shin) and Justin Moore (personal reasons) will not play Saturday.
3. Lammers is 12th in the nation in blocked shots per game, averaging three per contest.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 83, Georgia Tech 65