Hill leads Tech to victory over Ole Miss

Ole Miss (6-3) 324375
Virginia Tech (8-1) 334780
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 7,522
  • High Points: 20 - Ahmed Hill
  • High Rebounds: 9 - Ahmed Hill

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech guard Ahmed Hill scored 20 points, including six in the final minute, to lead the Hokies to an 80-75 non-conference victory over Ole Miss at Virginia Tech Carilion Court on Sunday.

The win marked the Hokies’ fourth straight, as they moved to 8-1 overall on the season. Ole Miss, which came into the game ranked No. 26 in the Ratings Percentage Index, fell to 6-3.

Hill hit 5 of 10 from the floor, including 3 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc, and Zach LeDay added 15 points for the Hokies, who led the entire second half and by as many 14 points before Ole Miss rallied to cut the lead to one in the waning moments.

The Rebels hit three 3-pointers and recorded a traditional three-point play during their run to cut the lead to 71-70 on a basket by Cullen Neal with 1:24 remaining.

But the Hokies went to Hill, and he responded, scoring six points in the final minute. He drained a jumper with 59 seconds left to push the lead to 73-70. He also hit four free throws in the final 16.6 seconds to help the Hokies hold on.

“We’re trying to work on finishing better,” Hill said. “Last year, we didn’t finish as well, and Buzz is trying to teach us how to finish better in the second half. We’re learning every day.”

The win gave Tech yet another quality non-conference victory to put on its resume. So far this season, the Hokies have beaten New Mexico, Nebraska and Michigan in addition to Ole Miss. The Ole Miss victory was a direct contrast to the Michigan win on Nov. 30 in which Tech rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit.

“Good teams … know how to fight from behind, and they now how to absorb a run from an opponent when they’re ahead, and they know how to execute regardless of the circumstance because you’re going to be in both,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “We don’t say, ‘Embrace it.’ We say, ‘Hug it.’ Not a ‘man hug,’ but a real hug – like the ones your grandma used to give you. We need to hug those types of opportunities because that’s the only way we’re going to grow.”

Hill made 7 of 10 from the free-throw line, but the Hokies connected on just 60 percent of their free-throw attempts (18 of 30). Tech was able to make up for it by hitting 10 of 26 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Chris Clarke added 12 points for the Hokies.

Sebastian Saiz led the Rebels with 21 points.

The Hokies are in exams this week and don't return to the court until Saturday when they continue non-conference play with a home game against The Citadel that tips at 1 p.m. Virginia Tech is a combined 23-2 all-time versus its next three opponents (The Citadel, Charleston Southern and UMBC).

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