Ole Miss looked a little flat in Sunday's 80-75 loss to Virginia Tech. The Rebels entered their first true road game of the season with momentum after beating a talented Memphis Tigers team at home a little over a week ago but couldn't replicate the same results against the now 8-1 Hokies. Led by Sebastian Saiz, Ole Miss kept the game close in the first half. Despite weak perimeter shooting the Rebels managed to get points in the paint and take advantage of Virginia Tech's missed shots to keep the game within one point at the half.
The second half was a different story. While Ole Miss truly never let the Hokies run away with the game, the Rebels went through large periods without scoring and gave up inopportune turnovers to never truly take command in the game. Despite missed opportunities, Ole Miss went on a late second-half run that almost saw the Rebels make a comeback. A Rasheed Brooks three-pointer began a 15-5 run for the Rebels that featured some fantastic plays from Brooks, Cullen Neal, and Terrance Davis. It was one of those runs that seemed to be setting up for some late game drama but a horrendous shot from Neal with 45 seconds left in the game gave the ball right back to the Hokies who took the rebound off the missed shot for an easy basket. From that point on Ole Miss had to fight the clock and Virginia Tech won off of free throws.
The same problems that have plagued Ole Miss so far this season came up against Virginia Tech. Weak perimeter defense, not rebounding in crucial moments and also finding another consistent player outside of Sebastian Saiz. Terrance Davis is quickly becoming a stud for the Rebels, but with its defensive woes Ole Miss needs more consistency on offense from guys like Cullen Neal, Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks. While both teams shot pretty poorly, it was Virginia Tech's three-point shooting that set the Hokies apart.
Saiz finished the game with 21 points and nine rebounds. Davis picked up his first career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Ole Miss returns to action on Thursday against Murray State in Oxford. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT and the game can be seen on the SEC Network +.
Michael Thomas Shroyer / USA Today Images
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Ahmed Hill scored 20 points to lead Virginia Tech to an 80-75 victory over Ole Miss on Sunday.
Hill hit 5 of 10 from the floor, including 3 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc for the Hokies (8-1), who won their fourth straight game. Zach LeDay added 15 points.
Sebastian Saiz led the Rebels (6-3) with 21 points.
Hill scored six of his points in the final minute. With the Hokies clinging to a 71-70 lead, Hill drained a jumper with 59 seconds left to push the lead to three. He also hit four free throws in the final 16.6 seconds to help the Hokies hold on.
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).
Ole Miss, which was picked to finish ninth in the SEC, needs to shore up its perimeter defense if it harbors any hopes of postseason play. The Rebels gave up 10 3-pointers to Virginia Tech and have allowed at least eight 3s in eight of nine games this season.
Virginia Tech added another impressive win to its resume, as it seeks a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss came in ranked No. 26 in the Ratings Percentage Index. The Hokies also have non-conference wins against New Mexico, Nebraska and Michigan.
The Rebels return to action Thursday with a home game against Murray State for the first of three straight non-conference home games before opening SEC play against No. 6 Kentucky on Dec. 29
The Hokies are in exams this week and don't return to the court until Saturday when they continue non-conference play with a home game against The Citadel. Virginia Tech is a combined 23-2 all-time versus its next three opponents.