Most players search for motivation when playing opponents they should beat, but Ahmed Hill didn’t need to look very far for his.
Actually, he only needed to watch film of his last game.
Coming off a scoreless performance against Penn State, Hill scored 24 points to lead No. 13 Virginia Tech to a 94-40 win over Central Connecticut State on Saturday.
Looking like a totally different player than the one who took the court Tuesday against the Nittany Lions — he missed all six of his field-goal attempts in 38 minutes — Hill connected on 9 of 13 from the floor Saturday and tied a career high with six 3-pointers. Behind his stellar play, the Hokies (6-1) rebounded from a 63-62 loss to the Nittany Lions in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
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“I was very motivated,” Hill said. “I just knew people would think that it was like last year, how if I was down in confidence, I wouldn’t play wel. But I’m kind of over that this year. I just go game by game and moment by moment.”
Hill’s game was part of a record-setting evening for the Hokies, who set a school record by making 18 3-pointers against the Blue Devils (4-5). Virginia Tech made 18 of 33 from beyond the arc (54.5 percent).
Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 18 points for Virginia Tech, hitting a couple of 3-pointers, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Ty Outlaw each hit three 3-pointers en route to double-figure evenings. Outlaw finished with 15 points, while Alexander-Walker added 14 for the Hokies, who responded to their first defeat of the season by shooting 57.1 percent (36 of 63).
“I don’t think that we were great at Penn State,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “I hope that we learn from it, similar to how we played against St. Louis last year (a 77-71 loss). It was just blasé. It was not enough juice. It was not enough energy. It was not enough toughness. I think the response of our program in what you saw today was maybe trying to get back to the core of what you have to be about. I thought we did that.”
Virginia Tech’s torrid shooting buried CCSU right from the start. The Hokies made 11 of their first 13 shots, including five 3s. Getting seven points from Blackshear, Tech used an 18-2 run to build a 15-point lead within the first eight minutes of the game and led 49-23 at halftime.
Playing its second game in three nights, CCSU never got untracked. The Blue Devils got a 3-pointer from Ian Krishnan to open the game, but made just eight of their final 26 shots in the first half and trailed for all but a minute in the game.
Joe Hugley led the Blue Devils with 13 points. They only shot 25.9 percent (14 of 54).
Central Connecticut State: The Blue Devils, picked to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference, have some interesting pieces, but will need to keep guard Tyler Kohl on the floor for a longer stretch than Saturday. Kohl was ejected with 7:37 left in the first half after committing a flagrant 2 foul. Averaging 20 points per game entering the day, he did not score, missing all four of his attempts from the floor.
Virginia Tech: How good is Virginia Tech’s perimeter talent? They have hit at least 10 3-pointers in six of seven games this season. Point guard Justin Robinson, who was averaging 16.2 points per game, scored only four against the Blue Devils but set a school record with 13 assists.
ROBINSON RESPONDS OFF THE BENCH
Robinson had started 81 consecutive games before Williams elected to bring Robinson off the bench Saturday. The senior led Tech with 19 points in the loss at Penn State, but he turned the ball over six times and had just one assist. Against CCSU, he had the 13 assists and also grabbed seven rebounds.
“I played really selfish against Penn State,” Robinson said. “I wasn’t myself. I was out of my lane. I just think, overall, if I have a game of one assist and six turnovers, it’s hard to overcome, being the leader and the floor general.
“The decision to come off the bench was coach’s decision. I trust him with whatever he decides. I just went along with it and came off the bench and tried to give us energy whenever I went into the game.”
Central Connecticut State: The Blue Devils return to action next Saturday when they play a home game against Penn State-Wilkes-Barre.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies take on VMI on Wednesday in the second of three straight nonconference home games.