Hill’s dozen lifts Virginia Tech past Presbyterian, 63-55
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Buzz Williams wasn’t dreading his team’s game Tuesday night. But he knew what he probably was going to get from his group considering the squad’s disappointing loss at then-No. 8 Kentucky on Saturday and knowing that his players were in the middle of exams.
Fortunately, he, and they, didn’t get a loss.
Ahmed Hill scored 12 points to lead Virginia Tech to a 63-55 victory over Presbyterian College on Tuesday.
Hill connected on 5 of 8 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, as the Hokies (10-2) won for the eighth time in the past nine games. Their lone loss in that span was a 93-87 road defeat to the Wildcats at Rupp Arena.
“I think the next level, the next layer, the next step we have to take relative to maturity is, good or bad, we go to the next thing,” Williams said. “And I did not think we handled that very well tonight.”
Justin Robinson added 11 points for Virginia Tech, while Kerry Blackshear Jr. finished with 10.
Virginia Tech struggled in a game many expected to be a blowout. The Hokies entered the game ranked first nationally in scoring offense at 95.8 points per game, but they allowed Presbyterian to control the tempo for much of the contest and finished with a season-low 63 points.
“Presbyterian’s a good team,” Robinson said. “They took some pointers from St. Louis (which defeated the Hokies 77-71 on Nov. 16). They ran the shot clock down and were shooting in the last 10 seconds. They played how they wanted to play and controlled the game. Then around the eight-minute mark of the second half, we started playing how we wanted to play.”
The game was tied at 47 after Presbyterian’s Davon Bell converted a three-point play with 10:30 remaining, but the Hokies immediately went on a 10-0 run, with five different players scoring. Devin Wilson’s basket with 5:13 to go gave the Hokies a 57-47 lead, and the Blue Hose got no closer than seven the rest of the way.
“I’m not sure that we played our best in any part of the game,” Williams said. “Having said that, I thought that, considering all that was happening, there was a level of maturity that our team showed that they understood what was going on and the value of a possession and what we had to do to give ourselves a chance to win. I’m not sure that if everything had been the exact same over the previous three years that we would have won tonight.”
Francois Lewis paced the Blue Hose (6-6) with 15 points. Presbyterian saw its five-game winning streak snapped.
Presbyterian: The Blue Hose could be a tough out for many in the Big South under first-year coach Dustin Kerns, especially if Lewis, a junior college transfer, continues to develop. The 6-foot-9, 230-pounder hit 6 of 11 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and also grabbed nine rebounds. He’s now scored in double figures in seven of Presbyterian’s 12 games.
Virginia Tech: Arguably for the first time this season, the Hokies won with their defense. Virginia Tech entered the game as the nation’s best scoring team and the best shooting team (55.5 percent), but was able to get stops late in the game, holding Presbyterian to just two baskets in the final four minutes. The Hokies held the Blue Hose to 35.6 percent (21 of 59) from the floor, and the field-goal percentage defense was the Hokies’ third-best this season.
PREPPING FOR ACC PLAY
Many might wonder why the Hokies would play Presbyterian considering the two schools had met just once previously. Williams, however, added the Blue Hose to the slate to help his team prepare for a specific ACC team that it meets in February.
“We scheduled this game offensively, not trying to act like I know everything as a coach, how their offense is the offense that Georgia Tech runs,” Williams said. “Georgia Tech’s offense, they’re the only team in our league that plays that. That was the reasoning behind the scheduling.”
Presbyterian: The Blue Hose face a quick turnaround, as they play a home game Thursday against Piedmont.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies return to action Dec. 28 when they play at home against North Carolina A&T.