No. 20 Notre Dame looks to stay hot vs. Va. Tech (Jan 14, 2017)
No. 20 Notre Dame is adept at winning close games. Another tight conference game appears to await the Irish.
Notre Dame (15-2, 4-0 ACC) has won six consecutive games overall, including four in conference by an average of 4.5 points. The Irish will enter Saturday's game at Virginia Tech tied for first in the ACC with Florida State.
The Hokies (13-3, 2-2) have won 15 consecutive home games at Cassell Colisuem.
Notre Dame just ended somebody else's long home winning streak, outlasting Miami 67-62 on Thursday to stop the Hurricanes' 21-game run. The Irish closed the game with a 10-1 burst over the final 2:30.
"That's four games in a row we've made plays in game situations and had been defensive plays to win a game," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
"We kind of believe that when we're in those situations we're going to figure it out. It certainly is a little bit of a psychological advantage for us now."
The Irish are 4-0 in league play for the first time ever, whether that is in the ACC or their former home in the Big East. Notre Dame is getting it done with timely plays and offensive efficiency. Brey's team entered Friday night's action as the national leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.91) and free throw percentage (84.1).
Four Notre Dame players average more than 14 points per game -- forward Bonzie Colson (15.9), guard Steve Vasturia (14.7), forward V.J. Beachem (14.5) and guard Matt Farrell (14.1).
Virginia Tech is coming off Tuesday's 83-73 home victory against Syracuse to snap a two-game skid.
"I thought we were much more connected," Hokies coach Buzz Williams said after that game.
"Obviously, we executed the scheme of what we wanted to do. That's why we won. I think we're a good offensive team. There are ways that I think we can be better, but when our turnover rate is low, good things are going to happen."
Tech, which committed just six turnovers against Syracuse, has one of the country's best offenses when it is taking care of the ball. The Hokies had a combined 36 turnovers in the previous two games, losses to North Carolina State and Florida State.
Forward Zach LeDay comes off the bench but plays starter's minutes and leads five Hokies who average double-digit points. LeDay is at 16.6 points per game and ranks second in rebounding at 7.3. Guard Ahmed Hill (15.1) and wing Chris Clarke (12.3) are next in scoring.
Clarke, a sophomore, has emerged after an injury-plagued freshman season to become the team's best all-around performer, also averaging 7.6 boards and 3.6 assists per game.
Tech leads the ACC in 3-point shooting at 39.9 percent, with Hill hitting 45.1 percent (46 of 102). That shooting will test a zone defense that Notre Dame has mixed in to good effect in conference play.
The Hokies opened their ACC schedule with an 89-75 win over then-No. 5 Duke. They dominated from start to finish in that game.
Against Notre Dame, it might be all about the finish. The Irish have outscored their four ACC opponents 35-7 in the final 9:35 of combined game time.
"Our fan base is all on heart medication," Brey said after Thursday's win. "This is the fourth game we looked dead in the water, and we go right to the end."