Rebels can’t catch up with Virginia Tech

Published 8:47 am Monday, December 12, 2016

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams consistently cites Ahmed Hill as the toughest player in his program.

So it came as no surprise to him that Hill made the big plays in the final minute of a close non-conference game.

Hill scored 20 points to lead the Hokies to an 80-75 victory over Ole Miss on Sunday.

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“I’ve been to where Med grew up,” Williams said. “He’ll be fine in the toughest situation you can create.”
Hill hit 5 of 10 from the floor, including 3 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc for Virginia Tech (8-1), which won its fourth straight game. Zach LeDay added 15 points.

Sebastian Saiz led the Rebels (6-3) with 21 points.

Ole Miss trailed the entire second half, including 68-54 with a little more than five minutes left to play, but it scored on six straight possessions. The Rebels hit three 3-pointers in that span to cut the lead to 71-70 on a basket by Cullen Neal with 1:24 remaining.

Then the Hokies went to Hill, and he responded by 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.”

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). Virginia Tech was able to make up for it by hitting 10 of 26 from beyond the 3-point arc.

“If they get penetration, because of their spacing and ball movement, they’re going to find the open guy,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “You’ve got three of their five guys typically making 3’s — and then (Chris) Clarke throws one in. And LeDay throws one in. It doesn’t do good for the other team.”