BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Ahmed Hill and No. 13 Virginia Tech knew their strong finish to the first half wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy coach Buzz Williams.
The Hokies got the message at halftime and quickly pulled away from the Red Flash for a 75-37 victory on Saturday.
“Buzz came in and got on us for not playing hard, (not) playing our style of ball,” said Hill, who finished with 19 points. “The group that came out to start, we wanted to make a statement by coming out, playing hard, getting in transition and I think that’s what we did. We started playing for one another and just upped the tempo of the game.”
The Hokies (5-0) led 23-20 when a 3-pointer by Ty Outlaw sparked a 10-2 run to end the first half. Nickeil Alexander-Walker made another 3-pointer right after halftime, one of 14 for Virginia Tech, and two 3s and a basket from Hill and a three-point play by Justin Robinson pushed the lead to 47-26.
Outlaw finished with 15 points, all on 3-pointers. Alexander-Walker scored 11 for the Hokies, and Robinson had 10 points and seven assists.
Williams said he got on his team at the break for allowing 10 offensive rebounds.
“I got lost in the numbers would be what I’d say about what I said at halftime,” he said.
Myles Thompson led the Red Flash (1-4) with 14 points. St. Francis shot just 25.9 percent (15 for 58) and committed 22 turnovers.
“We challenged our guys in a couple of areas and one of them was how we finished the first half and how we started the second half,” Red Flash coach Rob Krimmel said.
Krimmel was pleased with a 7-0 run that pulled them to 23-20, but “the start of the second half, I think ultimately, when we look at it, is when we let that game slip away.”
“We’ve now played I think 10 halves of basketball and that was by far our worst half,” he said.
The Red Flash went nearly eight minutes without a point in the second half as the Hokies scored 15 straight to open a 62-30 lead.
St. Francis: The Red Flash are the preseason favorites in the Northeast Conference with 93 percent of their scoring back from last season, and they are preparing for conference play with a tough early schedule. The Hokies were the third straight ranked team to beat the Red Flash this season - they also lost to 95-58 to No. 17 UCLA and 101-76 to No. 7 North Carolina - and they’ve now lost 50 games in a row against ranked opponents since they beat a ranked St. Bonaventure team 92-81 on Jan. 25, 1959.
Virginia Tech: One of the Hokies’ weaknesses in recent seasons has been on the defensive end. That appears to have improved early in the season. They held teams to 66.5 points and 46.1 percent shooting in their first four games. Those numbers only got better against the Red Flash.
“I think we’re starting to figure things out,” Williams said.
St. Francis: The Red Flash return home to face Bloomsburg on Tuesday night.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies head back on the road to face Penn State in their first true road game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday night.
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