January 13, 2015

Some major ACC showdowns are on tap this weekend, and Notre Dame coach Mike Brey wants to make sure his team will take advantage when some rivals lose.

The 19th-ranked Fighting Irish begin a stretch of three straight road games Saturday night when they face a Georgia Tech team they have beaten four straight times.

Notre Dame (18-7, 9-4) is one of six ranked teams separated by one game atop the ACC. Co-leaders No. 5 North Carolina and No. 11 Miami meet Saturday, and another critical matchup pits No. 18 Louisville against No. 20 Duke.

The Fighting Irish will gain ground on two of those foes with a fourth straight victory and are well rested after beating the then-No. 13 Cardinals 71-66 last Saturday.

"We know the top four teams can get a double-bye, it's not out of the question we can chase down a regular-season championship so I'm really pleased at how we've grown as a group and are playing well at the right time," Brey said.

The coach is wary of completing a sweep of the Yellow Jackets after a 72-64 home win Jan. 13, in which Georgia Tech (14-12, 4-9) got within three points with 3:25 left. The Fighting Irish's four wins in a row in this series have been by a combined 21 points.

The Yellow Jackets, who start four seniors, come in with some momentum after winning 86-80 at Florida State on Wednesday.

"Georgia Tech played great at Florida State, they are old, we've had grinding games with them," Brey said. "They're playing for their postseason life right now and they have new life after what they did in Tallahassee. So if we could scratch out a road win against Georgia Tech to get to 10 league wins, we would be thrilled."

The senior backcourt of Adam Smith and Marcus Georges-Hunt totaled 52 points against the Seminoles and combined to go 20 of 27 from the foul line.

"We rode our two seniors on the perimeter, Adam and Marcus, and they were great," coach Brian Gregory said.

That duo combined for 33 points in the first meeting, although they took 30 shots as the Yellow Jackets shot a season-low 33.3 percent.

Georgia Tech was hurt by Zach Auguste, who made 10 of 13 shots for 24 points. Many of his baskets came on pick-and-rolls run by point guard Demetrius Jackson, who had 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

The Irish have shortened their rotation in this win streak, with Rex Pflueger the only reserve logging double digits in minutes. Jackson had a career high-tying 27 points last Saturday and Steve Vasturia added 20 in the first game in the last three in which all five starters did not score in double figures.

Jackson is averaging 21.0 points in the last three games while playing every minute.

"Those guys (starters) have become so efficient on both ends of the floor, especially to finish a game, so I've really tried to play them together a little bit more," Brey said.

Georgia Tech's last victory in the series came in these teams' first ACC meeting, a 74-69 win Jan. 11, 2014.

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