Now on a three-game slide, Yellow Jackets next host Notre Dame

Georgia Tech coach Damon Stoudamire directs his team against Boston College on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Photo by Danny Karnik / Georgia Tech Athletics)

Credit: Photo by Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Credit: Photo by Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Georgia Tech coach Damon Stoudamire directs his team against Boston College on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Photo by Danny Karnik / Georgia Tech Athletics)

When the calendar turned to 2024, Georgia Tech had a real window to make a statement in ACC play. The Yellow Jackets were faced with three games against opponents it had more than a fair shot at beating. And, if it were able to take care of business, Tech would have been able to look up at a 4-0 start in league play.

Instead, that window has virtually slammed shut on Tech’s fingers as it finds itself on a three-game losing streak heading into Tuesday’s matchup against Notre Dame. The Jackets will be trying to salvage the final act of a three-game stretch that has included losses to Florida State and Boston College, respectively, after the team ended the Diamond Head Classic with a loss to Nevada.

“We gotta go start finishing games, so to speak,” Tech first-year coach Damon Stoudamire said Monday. “Two out of our last four games we’ve had big leads at halftime and we haven’t been able to finish. We gotta clean it up and that’s part of the process.”

Tech’s inability to finish games has been concerning, but its main issue this month has been defense.

In losses to FSU and BC, the Jackets have allowed the opposition to shoot a combined 53.7% and 47.5% from long range. The second half of those games was even worse with those two foes combining to go 38-for-58 (65.5%) from the floor. Florida State and Boston College also combined to go 26 of 35 from the line.

The 88.5 points allowed per game over the last two has dropped Tech’s scoring defense to 13th in the 15-team ACC.

“My team has to understand that we’re really good when we get stops. If you think about the game Saturday, when we get stops, when we get out and run, we’re scoring, it’s easy,” Stoudamire said. “No different than when we gave up that lead against Hawaii and came back, we got stops. It starts with stops. I think what happens is, when we tend to struggle, and it’s human nature because it’s most people, when you start to score you tend not to play as hard on the defensive end. We can’t do that.”

Overall, at this juncture, Tech is not in the conversation to make the NCAA Tournament outside of winning an ACC tournament championship in March. The Jackets’ NCAA NET ranking sits at 125 ahead of Tuesday’s game and they’re now 3-5 against teams in Quadrant 1 and/or Quadrant 2.

Tech can make up some ground, though, in coming weeks. Duke, Clemson, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest all are on the near horizon. Beating any of those teams would be quality victories for Stoudamire’s squad.

“We gotta show growth as a team,” Stoudamire added. “We gotta know time and score. We gotta know what’s good shot, bad shot during them times. We have to have on-floor accountability for the little things. It’s not the big things all the time, but it’s just the little things.”

Notre Dame arrives at McCamish Pavilion having dropped 5 of 7 which includes a 20-point loss at home to The Citadel. The Fighting Irish (6-9, 1-3 ACC) also dropped a home game to Western Carolina in November and have the ACC’s second-worst NCAA NET ranking (172).

Markus Burton is the lone Notre Dame player scoring in double figures at a 16.2 clip per game. Coach Micah Shrewsberry’s team is last in the ACC in assists, shooting percentage, scoring, 3-point shooting and turnovers.

Tech has played Notre Dame 28 times and won 10 of the 13 meetings at home. The Irish, however, have won 7 of 9 overall in the series.

“I think their record doesn’t show how good they’ve gotten here over the last three-four weeks,” Stoudamire said. “They’re a deliberate team. They have a really good, young point guard (Burton). We’ve gotta do a good job on him and that worries me a little bit because we haven’t done a good job on what I like to call, ‘wigglers.’ Little guards that are really crafty with the ball.

“They run their stuff and they’re intent on what they’re trying to do. We gotta do a good job of trying to change the tempo. When they miss shots, we gotta get out, we gotta run, we gotta take care of the ball. We can’t turn this game into what I like to call a possession game. At times that’ll be to their advantage because that’s how they wanna play.”

After Tuesday’s matchup with Notre Dame, Tech heads to No. 14 Duke at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Personnel update

Stoudamire said guard Carter Murphy is, “getting closer,” to being active and could be ready to see playing minutes within the next two weeks.

A 6-foot-4, 205-pound native of Phoenix who transferred to Tech from the Air Force Academy, Murphy has played in five games and scored just six points. Murphy has been out with an injury since playing in Tech’s loss at Georgia on Dec. 5.

Stoudamire also said that guard Amaree Abram and forward Ibrahim Souare returned to practice Monday morning. That duo missed Saturday’s game against Boston College due to illness.