AP NEWS

Hill lifts Virginia Tech past Charleston Southern

December 21, 2016

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Most winning coaches walk into a postgame news conference with smiles on their faces following 28-point victories.

But Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams is holding what he believes to be a special team to a much higher standard.

“I didn’t think we were very good in general,” Williams said. “I didn’t think we were great. I didn’t think we were as tight as we typically are. I don’t say any of that in a condescending way. I understand we won by 28 points, but it’s not the opponent. The opponent is us.”

On an evening when Virginia Tech shot poorly, Ahmed Hill scored 20 points to lift the surging Hokies to an 87-59 victory over Charleston Southern on Tuesday night.

Hill, who has scored at least 20 in three straight games, hit 5 of 12 from the floor and all eight of his free-throw attempts for Virginia Tech (10-1), which won its sixth straight game and its 12th straight home game since last season. The Hokies are off to their best start since the 2009-10 season when they won 12 of their first 13 games.

The two teams traded the lead for much of the first half, but the Hokies closed the half with a 15-2 run to take a 39-27 lead, and they never trailed again. Five different players scored in the run, including Hill, who scored four.

Hill then helped Virginia Tech put the game away in the second half, scoring 13 of his points in the final 20 minutes. Chris Clarke added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Virginia Tech, and Zach LeDay scored 14.

“We came out kind of flat at first, but we turned it up a little bit and got after them,” Hill said. “We got some turnovers, and everyone got going.”

Christian Keeling led Charleston Southern (4-7) with 24 points. The Buccaneers shot a season-worst 33.3 percent (22 of 66).

“We’re definitely a work in progress,” Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “Playing Georgia and Virginia Tech back to back has been good for us. This is going to help us prepare. Unless we have a drastic change in leagues in the next 10 days, we don’t have to beat Virginia Tech to win the Big South.”

BIG PICTURE

If the Buccaneers want to finish higher in the Big South Conference than predicted - they were picked seventh - they’ll need more big outings from Keeling. The freshman guard scored in double figures for the ninth time this season and set his career high.

The Hokies won despite having one of their poorest shooting games, hitting just 41.7 percent (25 of 60) - their second-lowest percentage of the season. They also shot a season-worst 26.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (6 of 23). But their versatile lineup made up for it at the free-throw line, where they set season highs in makes (31) and attempts (37).

UP NEXT

Charleston Southern wrapped up its non-conference schedule and takes nine days off before resuming action against Big South Conference preseason favorite Winthrop at home on Dec. 29.

Virginia Tech takes eight days off before returning to action against UMBC at home on Dec. 28. The game will conclude the Hokies’ non-conference slate.