The Virginia Tech Hokies entered today with a great chance to add one more quality non-conference win and potentially get a win to jump in the top 25 against a quality opponent in the Ole Miss Rebels who were looking to get a signature non-conference win on the road.
In what was a tough, back-and-forth game; the Hokies had some big leads while Ole Miss never relented but in the end, Virginia Tech was able to get the job done.
After leading by as much as 15 in the second half, Virginia Tech held on at the end to beat Ole Miss 80-75 in what was a wild game in Blacksburg with a couple big runs for both teams. Virginia Tech moves to 8-1 with the victory and has an extremely good chance of being 11-1 when they face Duke on New Year’s Eve with no power conference foes in between now and the Duke game.
Ahmed Hill was the star of this game as the redshirt sophomore nearly had a double-double and led the Hokies with 20 points and 9 rebounds in addition to having 3 assists and 0 fouls. Hill was clutch down the stretch for the Hokies making four free throws in the final minute to prevent Ole Miss from having a chance at tying or taking the lead in the final 60 seconds.
Hill has been the Hokies’ best player outside of Zach LeDay this season, and continues to be able to be someone that can make clutch shots whether that be at the free-throw line, from around the rim, or from beyond the arc.
Zach LeDay also played well for the Hokies today with 15 points and 7 rebounds while making some big shots in the second half for the Hokies. LeDay continues to be the star of a Virginia Tech team that is making a strong case to be in the top 25 tomorrow after today’s victory.
Chris Clarke had 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals while also making a couple of big plays down the stretch including a big three at the end of the shot clock and forcing Cullen Neal out of bounds inside the final 7 seconds. Clarke continues to provide some big hustle plays that make a difference in a positive way consistently for the Hokies.
Justin Bibbs had a solid game with 9 points on three early three-pointers but was quiet after that while Seth Allen also had 9 points plus 3 assists. Justin Robinson only had 6 points but also had 6 assists and 2 rebounds while Khadim Sy had 6 points, all at the start of the second half to give the Hokies momentum and force Ole Miss out of their 1-3-1 zone with Ty Outlaw making a three in the first half.
One big thing for the Hokies was how they were able to limit Ole Miss’s leading scorer Deandre Burnett to only 7 points while also limiting the Rebels to 11 free throws. In addition to that, the Hokies’ perimeter defense was quite good as Ole Miss was only 8-for-27 from beyond the arc with a few of those made threes being contested.
Virginia Tech’s free-throw shooting was a big issue in the first half as they went an atrocious 4-for-11 from the line, but the Hokies were much better in the second half as they went 14-for-19 in the second half. Virginia Tech had 8 turnovers in the first half including 4 in the first four minutes but settled down in the second half with only 5 turnovers while Ole Miss had 16 turnovers including 9 in the second half.
The Hokies have gained another quality win today over a solid Ole Miss team that seems likely to be a NIT-caliber team with a chance to potentially end up on the bubble. At this point, the Hokies should enter ACC play with only 1 loss while also entering conference play with a good non-conference resume that will be very helpful if the Hokies end up being near the bubble which doesn’t seem so likely the way VT has played in their non-conference games.
The Hokies do have some things to improve, but this Virginia Tech team looks ready to have another strong season while also continuing to push Buzz Williams’s Virginia Tech record farther above .500 than the game above .500 it is today.
Stay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on the Hokies via Twitter and Facebook plus subscribe to our email updates.