Virginia Tech overcame a 16-point second half deficit to defeat Ole Miss 83-80 in overtime on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies moved to 7-1 on the season, and picked up their first true road win. The Rebels dropped to 4-3 after losing their second home overtime game of the week.
Things did not begin well for the Hokies. They trailed for the entire first half, and their offense was stagnant against the Ole Miss trap for the first 20 minutes. Tech trailed 39-29 at halftime, and shot just 8-of-23 (34.8%) from the field in the process. They were only 2-of-11 (18.2%) from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Rebels were 7-of-15 (46.7%) from three-point range.
The second half didn’t begin any better. Virginia Tech quickly cut the lead to 39-31, but then Ole Miss went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 47-31 with exactly 18 minutes remaining in the game. Tech was struggling on offense, the Rebels were shooting well, and the game was on the road. It was going to be extremely difficult for the Hokies to claw their way back into contention.
But that’s exactly what they did. Chris Clarke hit the sixth three-pointer of his career and second of the season to begin a 16-3 run that brought Tech within three points. Kerry Blackshear ended the run with a layup, and by the time it was over the score was only 50-47 Ole Miss with 12:27 left on the clock. Blackshear had nine points during the run.
For nearly the next 10 minutes, the game was equal. Ole Miss never led by more than five points during that stretch, while the Hokies stayed within striking distance. The Hokies finally tied the score at 64 on a Justin Robinson three-pointer with 3:31 remaining. Virginia Tech spent the next two minutes trying to take the lead, and finally did so with exactly 1:02 left on the clock when Robinson sank two free throws to put his team up 70-68. It was their first lead of the game.
After Ole Miss was turned away on the other end, a Blackshear layup put the Hokies up 72-68 with 21 seconds remaining. The Rebels scored with 13 seconds remaining to make it 72-70, but things still looked good for the Hokies. All they had to do was inbound the ball successfully, make a couple of free throws, and they would leave Oxford as winners. However, more drama was to unfold.
Tech inbounded to Robinson, who found himself surrounded by three Ole Miss players. He was stripped of the ball and arguably fouled, but Ole Miss came away with the ball, and an easy bucket in the lane by Markel Crawford tied the game with just five seconds remaining. Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s desperation three-pointer was no good, and the Hokies had to dig down deep once again in overtime.
The final lead for Ole Miss came at the 3:49 mark when Bruce Stevens made a free throw to put his team up 75-74. On Virginia Tech’s next possession, Justin Robinson nailed a deep three-pointer to put the Hokies up 77-75, and though the Rebels tied it on their next possession, Tech came right back with a layup from PJ Horne. Two Robinson free throws, as well as two more free throws from Alexander-Walker, put the Hokies up 83-80.
Devin Wilson missed two late free throws with under three seconds remaining that would have iced the game, but the Hokies survived when Breein Tyree’s last second three-pointer was way off.
The second half shooting stats paint a much different picture than the first half.
FG%: VT 14-of-28 (50%), Ole Miss 13-of-33 (39.4%)
3-Pt.%: VT 4-of-9 (44.4%), Ole Miss 2-of-12 (16.7%)
Five Hokies scored in double figures, but Chris Clarke and Kerry Blackshear were the stars of the game. Clarke finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes after coming off the bench. Blackshear had 17 points and five rebounds. Both players were critical in Tech’s second half comeback.
Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker each had 13 points, with Robinson adding eight assists and two steals. Justin Bibbs finished with 11 points for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday when they host Radford in Cassell Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm, and the game can be viewed online on ACC Network Extra.