ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech was back at full strength.
The Yellow Jackets are also back on the winning track.
Abdoulaye Gueye had a huge putback with 52 seconds left, Jose Alvarado hit two clutch free throws and Georgia Tech held off Notre Dame for a 63-61 victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Tuesday night.
Alvarado and James Banks III scored 16 points apiece to lead the Yellow Jackets (11-8, 3-3), who snapped a two-game losing streak.
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They were really desperate for a win after losing 79-51 to Louisville at home last weekend, a game that Alvarado and Gueye both missed with injuries.
“For 72 hours, I was sick to my stomach,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “I barely slept. I knew how important this game was.”
Notre Dame (11-8, 1-5) lost for its third in a row despite another big game from John Mooney, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Mooney made a meaningless shot at the end, ripping at his shirt at the horn sounded. The Fighting Irish are tied with Wake Forest for last place in the ACC standings, their last three defeats decided by a total of 12 points.
“We battled,” said Mooney, who had a double-double before halftime. “That’s been the theme of the year. Close games at the end, but we just can’t pull it out. It’s very frustrating.”
Georgia Tech appeared to be pulling away, building an 11-point lead with just over 5 minutes remaining.
But Notre Dame fought back, closing to 59-57 when Nate Laszewski was fouled on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all three free throws with 2:46 remaining.
The Yellow Jackets withstood the comeback. Finally, after Alvarado missed a 3 and Banks missed a putback, Gueye swooped in to make the shot that pushed the lead back to 61-57.
“I get an assist,” Banks joked.
Mooney worked inside for a look, but his short shot in the lane spun out. Gibbs did make a couple of free throws with 10 seconds left to give Notre Dame a glimmer of hope, but Alvarado sealed it at the foul line.
“It was a big time to step up,” Alvarado said. “I went in with 100 percent confidence, and I made them.”
Alvarado prodded his teammates to forget about the blowout loss to Louisville.
“It was hard, but you’ve just got to learn from it,” he said. “I told my guys to hold their heads up. Don’t let Louisville lose us two games.”
GIVE HIM A T
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was called for a technical with 7:19 left in the game when he griped about a call against T.J. Gibbs.
Brey thought Gibbs had made the steal off Khalid Moore, but the officials whistled a foul.
It turned into a four-point possession for Georgia Tech. Alvarado made both free throws, the Yellow Jackets kept the ball, and Michael Devoe scored underneath to push the home team to a 51-44 lead.
That sparked a run by the Yellow Jackets, who pushed the lead to 58-47 — their biggest of the game — before Notre Dame rallied.
WHAT A HEAVE
Moore made an improbable shot with about 6 minutes left that really looked big when it was over.
The freshman forward had the ball knocked out of his hands at the top of the key with the shot clock running down. He got it back and put up a desperation heave from just inside the 3-point stripe that banked in from high off the backboard.
“I don’t know if he meant to make it,” Alvarado marveled. “But he threw it up and it went in.”
Notre Dame: Mooney continues to carry a huge load for the Fighting Irish, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of help. Laszewski, with 19 points, was the only other player in double figures. Juwan Durham was out for the third time in four games with a sprained ankle.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets were clearly bolstered by the return of Alvarado, who didn’t play against Louisville because of a groin injury, and Gueye, who scored 13 points after missing two straight games with an undisclosed medical condition. Senior guard Brandon Alston also dressed after missing two games for personal reasons, but he didn’t play.
Notre Dame: Return home Saturday to face No. 3 Virginia.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets also face a tough one in their next outing, traveling to Durham on Saturday to meet No. 2 Duke.
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