Big second half propels Tech past The Citadel

The Citadel (7-5) 442771
Virginia Tech (9-1) 4073113
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 5,664
  • High Points: 22 - Ahmed Hill
  • High Rebounds: 12 - Chris Clarke

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech’s Ahmed Hill scored a career-high 22 points and Chris Clarke recorded a triple double to lead streaking Virginia Tech to a 113-71 non-conference victory over The Citadel at Virginia Tech Carilion Court on Saturday.

The win marked the Hokies’ fifth straight, as they moved to 9-1 overall. Tech also won its 11th straight home game since last season. The Citadel fell to 7-5.

The Hokies, who are receiving votes in the Associated Press top-25 poll, trailed 44-40 at halftime, thanks primarily to 11 first-half turnovers, but opened the second half with a 26-6 run and pulled away.

“I don’t know we made any adjustments on either end,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “I just think our mentality was much different [in the second half]. All the things that we did in the second half were things that we had worked and prepared to do in the first half. [But] very little of it was executed. I don’t necessarily know that we made any adjustments at all, but I thought the mentality and execution of what we had planned was much better.”

Hill got going at the start of the second half. He scored 12 points in the Hokies’ run, hitting three 3-pointers and converting a 3-point play, and the Hokies scored on 11 of their first 13 possessions.

Hill, who has scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games, made 8 of 12 from the floor. He hit 4 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc.

“My teammates found me,” Hill said. “I was open, and I just tried to do my job – which is to hit shots. I just kept shooting.”

Tech shot 69.2 percent from the floor in the final 30 minutes, and seven players finishing in double figures.

Khadim Sy’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Clarke the final assist he needed to record what Virginia Tech communications staffers believe to be the first triple-double in school history. Clarke had 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

“It’s definitely cool,” Clarke said of the feat. “I love to pass the ball more than I love to score, so just them getting me going with me getting a couple of assists … that gets me going emotionally.”

“He’s a matchup horror movie,” Williams said of Clarke. “I think he’s a really good player that can tilt a floor downhill in as quick of a fashion as I’ve seen as a head coach. I think that he plays for others. I think he has an insatiable desire to get the ball off the rim off a missed shot. He continues to improve. I hate that he missed a third of our season last year [with an injury], but I do think that he’s getting in a better grove.

“I didn’t realize it was a triple-double until right there at the very end, but that’s cool.”

Zach LeDay added 16 points for the Hokies, who outrebounded the Bulldogs 41-28 and whose 30 assists were one shy of the school’s single-game record. Tech recorded 31 in a win against South Carolina State in 1982.

“I think those guys have a camaraderie and a symmetry off the floor that’s very unique,” Williams said. “ I’ve been around teams that are close to one another as kids, but I don’t know that I’ve been around a team – and you could kind of see it blossom last year, but it wasn’t fluid. I think that camaraderie and symmetry … you can see it on the floor more than any group I’ve been around. They’re not selfish at all. They’re wise enough to know that all of us have to be good in order for us to have a chance.

The Hokies return to non-conference action when they play a home game against Charleston Southern on Tuesday. Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m.

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