*Courtesy of the Associated Press* – Full Recap
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Justin Robinson saw his Virginia Tech teammate Ahmed Hill coming off the floor after a disappointing first half.
“We’re going to need you to win,” Robinson told him.
Hill certainly listened and was instrumental in the 16th-ranked Hokies’ first in-season tournament title in coach Buzz Williams’ five seasons with an 89-83 victory over No. 23 Purdue at the Charleston Classic on Sunday night.
Hill scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half and had the three-point play that put the Hokies (4-0) ahead for good at 80-77 with 3:50 remaining.
Hill followed with a 3-pointer to extend the margin. The Boilermakers (4-1) could not respond.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 25 points to lead Virginia Tech. He was named tournament MVP.
Robinson also had 23 points as the Hokies came from 50-38 down in the second half to win.
The Hokies jumped around in celebration when the horn sounded, giddy about the championship.
“It’s an experience that money can’t buy,” Alexander-Walker said.
Purdue’s dynamic guard Carsen Edwards finished with 26 points, the fifth time this season he’s had 23 or more points in a game.
The 6-foot-1 junior rose high for a left-armed jam and tied things a final time at 77 with his layup after stealing the ball from Robinson.
But he said there were too many late breakdowns that cost the Boilermakers.
“The good thing is that it’s early and we can work on this before we get into (Big Ten) conference play,”
It didn’t look like Purdue would have much to work on early on.
Edwards jumper late in the first half put his team ahead 41-29 while the Hokies struggled to find shots.
But, as Virginia Tech did in earlier Charleston wins over Ball State and Northeastern, the team roared back.
The Hokies held Purdue to 1-of-8 shooting in a six-minute stretch as they went from 12 points behind to 58-56 ahead on Alexander-Walker’s 3-pointer.
Williams said the Hokies began to put pressure on Purdue’s inside players and make sure when Edwards shot, it was not an easy, open attempt.
Edwards was 9 of 21 overall and made only three of his 11 attempts from beyond the three-point line.
The game’s pace the final 12 minutes after Virginia Tech’s rally was frenetic, a high-level display of basketball typically on display in a later postseason tournament in March.
It’s way too early for that kind of talk, Alexander-Walker said.
“We try not to get ahead of ourselves,” he said. But “we’re happy to see our work come to light.”
Williams was happy for his players and staffers Virginia Tech could taste some early success after the word the team had done in the offseason.
“I’m thankful for our kids, I’m thankful for their parents who believed in us and allowed us to have an opportunity like this,” he said.
– Alexander-Walker led the Hokies in scoring for the fourth consecutive contest and has scored 20 or more points in every game this season. The Toronto native’s 25 points were the second-most of his career and a season high. Alexander-Walker also got it done on the glass, bringing down seven rebounds, a season high and the second-most of his career, too.
– Robinson finished in double figures for the 11th straight game, dating back to Feb. 17, 2018, versus Georgia Tech. The point guard also dished out six assists, racking up 24 total assists through four games to average 6.0 per game.
– Hill, who only had five points in the first half, exploded for 18 points in the second half on 6-of-10 shooting, including three 3-pointers and three free throws. It was his most points in a game since Nov. 17, 2017, versus Washington when he had 23 as well.
– Blackshear was limited to only 17 minutes of playing time, finishing with four fouls, but turned in 12 points, including a 7-of-11 clip from the charity stripe. He also grabbed two rebounds.
– The Hokies got to the lane with ease and made the Boilermakers pay, making more free throws than Purdue attempted, as they made 19 of 26 compared to Purdue’s 7-of-11 mark.
– Tech is the fifth ACC team to win the championship at the Charleston Classic, joining Clemson (2008), Miami (’09, ’14) and Virginia (’15).
– It’s been 10 years since the Hokies won a non-conference tournament, winning the Holiday Festival title in New York in 2008.