If you haven’t seen it, go watch the end of this game. Don’t worry I’ll wait. And if you did watch it, go ahead and do it again.
You know what? We’ll even put the last 11 seconds here for you, in case you didn’t want to go find them:
This really felt like a game that Georgia Tech was going to lose. They were coming off of a massive high from the Florida State game. Notre Dame was coming off a tough loss to Virginia. Notre Dame is a very good three-point shooting team, which tend to succeed against Tech. The Jackets made some poor plays at the very end to let Notre Dame back into the game after leading for much of the second half...but in the end, Georgia Tech won anyway.
Coming into the season, the big question was where points were going to come from. Josh Okogie had a monster game against FSU, but he struggled with foul trouble today and only ended up with 8 points. Quinton Stephens has been a reliable scorer this year, but he went 1-6 from deep and ended up with 5 points. The point guard combo of Josh Heath and Corey Heyward scored just 9 points combined (all from Heath). So where did the scoring come from? Plenty came from junior center Ben Lammers, of course. He scored in the post, he scored on jumpers, he scored on put-backs. The usual Ben Lammers things. But most of the scoring came from Tadric Jackson.
Jackson has struggled in ACC play, but with Okogie on the bench for foul trouble, the Jackets needed somebody to step up and create on the offensive end. Jackson did. He was able to finish through traffic several times. He hit from deep, going 3-6 from three-point range. In some of my favorite things to watch, he even posted up Notre Dame defenders several times. I am a huge fan of guards posting up, and Jackson looked like a pro doing it. He ended with 25 points on 11-19 shooting.
GT struggled heavily with turnovers in this game, but they made up for it by dominating on the boards. They ended with 12 offensive rebounds, and it felt like every time a shot rimmed out they had a chance at keeping it. This was the difference in the game. The Jackets found themselves down early with a struggling offense, but second-chance points brought them back into the game.
Defensively, the Jackets did a very good of holding one of the best offenses in the country to a weak game. The Irish ended up shooting just a shade above 40% as a team. VJ Beachem had a fantastic game for the Irish with 23 points on 10-16 shooting. He was helped out by Bonzie Colson who had a quiet 13 points on 6-10 shooting. Point guard Matt Farrell added 15 points, but that was on 5-14 from the field. That was about it for Notre Dame.
The Jackets struggled right out of the gate, falling down 17-9 early. They got going soon though, and were able to take a 5-point lead shortly before halftime. The Jackets spent most of the second half with a tight lead. In the final minutes, mistakes enabled Notre Dame come back and tie it. Probably the biggest mistake made was by Lammers, who grabbed a rebound on defense and passed it straight to Farrell, who then able to immediately drain a three-pointer to pull the Irish to within two. That mistake was supplemented by some poor shot selection near the end of the game.
Despite the mistakes, Georgia Tech had the ball with one minute left and the game tied. The Jackets ran a beautiful play to get Okogie the ball right at the basket and forcing Notre Dame to foul. Unfortunately, Okogie uncharacteristically missed both free throws, giving Notre Dame the ball in a tie game with about 35 seconds left. The Irish oddly ran an iso play for Farrell, but good defense forced him to put up a heavily contested shot. The rebound fell right to Jackson with about 5 seconds left, who paused for a moment before pushing the ball up the floor. A Notre Dame defender came up to meet him around half-court, but Jackson made a perfect pass to a streaking Okogie. I wasn’t sure that he had enough time to reach the basket, but Okogie’s layup left his hands with about half of a second left in the game. It went. Game over.
This was a huge win for the Yellow Jackets. McCamish was packed and rocking, and this game ensured that many of those fans will keep coming back. Coming into the game, Georgia Tech was on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament field according to many predictors, but now will probably be in the field with the win. Our first official Georgia Tech bubble watch will be coming tomorrow. The Jackets are now tied for 6th in the ACC at 5-4 in conference.
I have never been more excited as a Tech basketball fan than I am right now.