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November 25, 2010LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - 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.
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.
"You've got to give credit to Notre Dame," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "They fought back and found a way to win the game. It was a battle both ways and a tough game to lose. But we're going to have to bounce back because we'll be playing a good team (Friday)."
Indeed the Bulldogs will No. 20 Temple in the nightcap of the evening doubleheader here at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. Temple fell to Cal in Thursday's late game, 57-50.
Georgia's last double-figure lead of the game occurred at 48-38 on a 3-pointer by Gerald Robinson. The Bulldogs, stymied by a 2-3 zone defense from Notre Dame, went scoreless for the next six minutes. By the time they scored again - on a jump shot by Thompkins, playing in his first game of the season, at the 7:06 mark - the Irish had taken a 52-50 lead.
"The zone gave us problems, no question," Fox said. "We didn't shoot well against it and we turned it over too much against it. And our free throw shooting in the second half cost us. We missed eight in a row at one point. If we make just one more, we win in regulation."
Notre Dame 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 win certainly didn't come easy. And not without a few surprises.
Thompkins missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain for Georgia, and he wasn't expected to play much -- if at all -- in the tournament. Instead, he entered two minutes, 28 seconds into the game and sparked the Bulldogs throughout.
Early in the first half, 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 the Irish all the time they needed to remain undefeated.
In what was supposed to be largely a transition season, this Notre Dame team showed some fight. Sure, mainstays Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson are gone.
But seniors Hansbrough, Scott, Nash and grad student Abromaitis are back from a 23-win team last year that lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Old Dominion. Early returns this year look promising.
Tonight's game will be shown live on ESPNU.