The Bulldogs, behind 12 points from Travis Leslie, bolted to early command of the game. They needed just eight minutes to take their first double-digit lead, coming at 19-7 on a 3-pointer by reserve guard Sherrard Brantley. Notre Dame rallied by cut its deficit to five before Georgia countered with another big scoring run at the end of the first half. A driving dunk by Connor Nolte with 1:08 left put his team ahead 37-25 at halftime.
"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 tomorrow."
Indeed the Bulldogs will face the loser of the Cal-Temple nightcap of the evening doubleheader here at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disneyworld. Both teams participated in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, and the Owls are ranked 20th in the current Associated Press Top 25 poll.
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 Trey 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 surged ahead by as many as eight points in the final minutes of regulation. Still, the Bulldogs rallied to knot the score at 62 on a third-chance putback by Thompkins with nine seconds left.
In the first overtime, Georgia overcame a six-point deficit to pull ahead 69-68 on a driving layup by Robinson with 41 seconds left. Ben Hansbrough made one of two foul shots with :04 remaining to force another extra period.
A 3-pointer by Abromaitis with 1:16 left in the second overtime put the Irish ahead for good at 79-76. After a Leslie tip-in, Eric Atkins hit a 10-foot baseline jumper that gave Notre Dame an 81-78 lead with 41 seconds left. Abromaitis secured the Irish victory with two foul shots with 12 seconds left, giving his team an 87-81 margin.