Notre Dame 89, Georgia 83
Notre Dame passed its first big test of the season, even if it took a little longer than expected.
Tim Abromaitis had 25 points, Tyrone Nash scored 18 and Notre Dame rallied from 12 points down at the half for an 89-83 double-overtime victory over Georgia on Thursday night in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic.
''What a Thanksgiving for Notre Dame fans. They probably threw up some turkey around the country,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ''I'm really proud of our group. Fifth game of the season, to be up against the wall and find a way to fight it out and get a win. Something for us to really build on. A lot of guys made key plays for us.
''Nice to see the mental toughness of a group early in the season.''
The Irish (5-0) held the Bulldogs scoreless for more than six minutes in the second half, using a 14-0 run during that stretch to force overtime. They outscored Georgia 20-14 in the second overtime, hitting some big free throws late to pull away.
Travis Leslie had 23 points and Trey Thompkins finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game this season for Georgia (3-1), who lost for the first time this season. Thompkins, Georgia's leading scorer and rebounder last year, had missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain.
But the Bulldogs shot 10 for 20 on free throws, with many of the misses coming late. Notre Dame was 30 for 43 on free throws.
''We kind of got stuck. When we had chances to get easy points, we didn't take advantage of it,'' Georgia coach Mark Fox said. ''Make one of them and you win in regulation. We didn't make enough plays to win.''
Notre Dame also had chances to cap its comeback earlier.
But Gerald Robinson's 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining in regulation brought the Bulldogs within two. After Nash missed two free throws, Thompkins tipped in a rebound on the other end with 10.4 seconds left to tie the game at 62.
The Bulldogs went ahead by three points in the first overtime, and Notre Dame would come back again. Ben Hansbrough grabbed a rebound and was fouled with 4.7 seconds left, but he only made one free throw to tie the game at 69 and send it to a second overtime.
The final period was no contest.
Abromaitis started things off with a three-point play, added a 3-pointer later in the period and the Irish shot free throws the rest of the way to seal the victory - the toughest one yet this season. Notre Dame's previous wins were easy victories over Georgia Southern, Liberty, Chicago State and Maine.
''We came in at halftime and said, 'What are we going to do with adversity?''' Nash said. ''Defense wins games and we tried to go out there and make our stand. I'm happy with the win. It was a team effort.''
The victory didn't come without a few surprises.
Thompkins had missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain, and he wasn't expected to play much - if at all - in the tournament. Instead, he played 33 minutes and sparked the Bulldogs throughout.
The 6-foot-10 forward made a jumper from the wing and followed with a 3-pointer to push Georgia ahead by 12 points at the half. But it was completely different after the break.
Notre Dame's defense smothered and swarmed Thompkins and the rest of the Bulldogs, who went scoreless for more than six minutes in the second half. The Irish scored 14 straight points, including seven from Carleton Scott, to open a 52-48 lead during their defensive run.
That was enough to send the game to overtime and give the Irish all the time they needed to remain undefeated. Notre Dame will play Friday against the winner of the Temple-California game.