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January 11, 2014

Golden leads Tech past Irish

ATLANTA- Georgia Tech (10-6, 1-2) h played their best game of the season to open ACC play at McCamish Pavilion knocking off Notre Dame (10-6, 1-2) 74-69. Senior point guard Trae Golden led the way with 20 points while sophomore shooting guard Chris Bolden added 14 points off the bench including the game icing free throws in the final minutes.

"I was trying to do and Coach told me to be aggressive from the beginning and play my game," Golden said. "Atkins and I went to the same camps since we were 12 or 13, we played probably 20 times now and it is good to see a guy do well like that."

Notre Dame took their first lead of the game on a Pat Connaughton basket with 3:48 left after tying things up several times. Daniel Miller answered on the following possession with a basket tying it back up. The basket gave Miller his third double-double of the season. Garrick Sherman answered with an offensive rebound and put back after a pair of Irish misses and Kam Holsey responded with his own second chance basket to tie the game again at 66-66 with 1:42 left.

"We couldn't get a key stop and the two long threes were daggers that killed us. We were searching for 30 minutes for who we are and the last ten minutes we did but it was too late," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "Tech has a powerful athletic front line and Miller and the other guys coming off bothered Garrick. Miller is a heck of a college basketball player."

Georges-Hunt drove the lane on the next possession drawing a foul and hitting one of his two free throws to give Tech a one-point advantage. Sherman answered with a basket to give Notre Dame a one-point lead 68-67 with under a minute left. Golden responded with a three to give GT a 70-68 lead.

"It wasn't a set play but at 12 or 13 minutes left, Coach Gregory told me big time players hit big time shots and get it and shoot it and he told me to get the ball and then yelled pull up and I hit," Golden said.

Holsey fouled Eric Atkins with 10.6 left on the clock. Atkins missed the front end of the free throw and hit the second to cut Tech's lead to one, 70-69. Notre Dame fouled Chris Bolden who hit both his free throws to extend the Tech lead to 72-69 and then after a missed three with 3.5 left, freshman Quinton Stephens hit both free throws to give Tech a 74-69 win.

"It was just about repetition and I had enough confidence to step up and hit the free throws," Bolden said.

Tech held a 39-35 advantage at the half behind Golden's 15 first half points and 13 first-half rebounds by Miller and Holsey. The Jackets hit four of their ten three point shots in the first half.

Sophomore point guard Solomon Poole did not play or dress because of a migraine headache. Backup guard Corey Heyward stepped in and played strong defense behind Golden.

I think an unsung hero was Corey, two assists and he did a great job covering Atkins," Gregory said. "Trae did a great job and they did a good job in the second half closing off his spots. You can't ask much more from him than what we got. He only played 28 minutes, which is the least minutes he has played in a month. Don't ask about his free throws, but his amount of minutes he was playing was affecting his shooting."

Bolden's 14 points off the bench coupled with Quinton Stephens eight points helped keep the Jackets in the game.

"Four for eight from the three, I would take that every night and two for two from the line. He has been putting in a lot of time and more concentrated time that can help him in game situations. He did a good job defensively. With Robert and Travis out, we need everybody in these last 15 games and keep getting better. I felt Chris was ready to have a good game and I was glad I was right today," Gregory said of Bolden. "I thought Chris made a couple of mistakes and forced one shot and missed a couple of cutouts and he knows when he makes mistakes. Last year he would not have made those two and that was a big step maturity wise. That was something big. Q every day has gotten better and made some big shots and down the road he will make the shots that he misses."

Daniel Miller held Irish center Garrick Sherman to six of 18 shooting and he only went to the free throw line once. Miller had 10 points and 13 rebounds as well as 4 blocks.

"Daniel held (Sherman) to six of 18 and it is a great matchup. Garrick is a little more offensively aggressive and Daniel is better on the defense side and they made themselves into great players," Gregory said. "One gets 12 rebounds and one gets 13. You can look at a lot of different things."

Notre Dame's top offensive weapon Eric Atkins scored 20 points in the loss.

Tech had a packed house with an announced attendance of 7,727 and Gregory said the Jackets fans had a huge impact on the game

"Just a tremendous college basketball game and I a ton of respect for Mike and what he has done. Two teams trying to rediscover themselves with players out and both teams shared the ball. For me in terms of what we are building it was unbelievable afternoon. Our guys played with great intensity and matched the intensity in the arena. We haven't been here in over a month. Only lost one game here and we need them and they were tremendous for us. From the fans to the students and part of the rebuilding is getting this back to making it a difficult place to play."

Brey echoed Gregory's thoughts on the crowd and said that is something the Irish will have to adjust to as they dig into ACC play.

"It was a great atmosphere and I told our fans it will be harder to win than the Big East because everyone plays on campus. Today was the ultimate and their fans gave them the confidence to win the basketball game," Brey said.

The Jackets host Pitt on Tuesday evening in McCamish as part of the three-game home stand. Gregory says he his players continue to garner the level of support from the Tech faithful the team saw Saturday afternoon.

"This is important to me and to walk out and see that and come off the court with that support and you want that every night. I saw some progress in the Duke game and saw more today and we need to keep doing, Gregory said. "We are in a tight spot on a daily basis because of the limited bodies we have."

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