With the game locked up at 53-53 and less than 5 minutes remaining, Georgia was set to inbound the ball with only 4 seconds left on the shot clock. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Notre Dame’s Scott Martin fouled Georgia’s Gerald Robinson with just one tick left on the shot clock, giving the Dawgs a fresh 35 and a chance to inbound the ball from the sidelines. On the ensuing play, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope buried a three-pointer from the wing off of a Dustin Ware assist, putting his team up 56-53 with just 3:45 left in the game.
Georgia played strong man defense in game’s final minutes, holding the Irish to just one field goal in the last 4 minutes – which came on an uncontested three-pointer with only 4 seconds remaining in the game. The Bulldogs were only 5 of 9 from the free throw line down the stretch, but the points were enough to help Georgia secure a much-needed 61-57 win over Notre Dame on Tuesday night.
After a first half that featured several lead changes, the teams went into the break with UGA leading 31-29. The Dawgs came out hot out of the intermission though, and they were able to open up a 49-40 advantage. Notre Dame answered with a 13-4 run that knotted the game up at 53-apiece before KCP’s big three-point field goal.
KCP, who scored 5 points in the final 4 minutes, led the Bulldogs in scoring with career-high 16 points to go along with 4 rebounds.
The Dawgs put on their best shooting display of the season, knocking down 12 three-pointers on 26 attempts. Georgia was also able to out-rebound the bigger Notre Dame squad by a count of 30 to 25. KCP was the only Bulldog to finish in double-figures, but Coach Mark Fox did get 7+ points from six different players.
The Bulldogs’ bigs frustrated Notre Dame’s star player Tim Abramaitus to only 6 points (16 below his season average), limiting him to just 1 field goal on 12 tries. The Georgia defense as a whole was pretty stifling on Tuesday night, holding the Irish to below 35% from the field and just 19% from beyond the arc.
Notre Dame spent much of the night on the charity stripe, hitting 21 of their 28 attempts. Georgia, however, didn’t even get to the line until there were just 5 minutes remaining in the game. The Bulldogs ended up going 5 of 11 from the line, overcoming a rather lopsided margin of free throw attempts.
Coach Mark Fox shook up the starting lineup prior to the game, inserting Vincent Williams and John Florveus into the starting five. Williams responded by turning in a solid performance at the guard position, scoring 8 points (on 2 threes) and dishing out a pair of assists.
The Dawgs improved to 4-1 on the season after tonight’s win, and Coach Mark Fox’s team should enjoy a hard-earned victory over a Big East team. After getting shelled by Cal on Monday 70-46, Georgia was still searching for a win over a quality opponent after underwhelming victories against Wofford, Bowling Green and South Dakota State. This win over the Irish should give the Dawgs confidence moving forward as they prepare for a road trip to #12 Xavier this Friday night.
Happy Thanksgiving and Go Dawgs!