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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gill, Tobey lead Virginia past Iowa State 84-71

Virginia’s Isaiah Wilkins dunks during the second half of the Cavaliers’ win over Iowa State on Friday. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)
Associated Press

CHICAGO – Tony Bennett was spending time in the hotel room with his father, Dick, when the old coach had a question.

“He said, `You know what your grandfather would tell you?’ He’d tell you, `Don’t tiptoe into this one. No tiptoeing,“’ Bennett said.

All Virginia did was stomp on Iowa State on Friday night.

Anthony Gill finished with a season-high 23 points, and Mike Tobey came off the bench to score 18, leading the top-seeded Cavaliers to an 84-71 victory in the Midwest Region semifinals.

They withstood a second-half push by the fourth-seeded Cyclones (23-12) after grabbing a big lead in the early going and advanced to their first regional final since 1995.

Virginia (29-7) will face Syracuse or Gonzaga on Sunday. A win would send the Cavaliers to their first Final Four since 1984 and give both Bennetts the distinction of leading teams there. Dick coached Wisconsin to one in 2000.

“I feel like we’ve just gotten better and better,” ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon said. “We’ve battled through our ups and downs, and it’s a huge accomplishment.”

Georges Niang had another big game for Iowa State, finishing with 30 points after scoring 28 against both Iona and Arkansas-Little Rock in the first two rounds, but he also committed four fouls.

For the Cyclones, an up-and-down first season under coach Steve Prohm ended on a disappointing note. With a chance to go farther than they ever did under predecessor Fred Hoiberg, they never could recover from a flat start in the arena where “The Mayor” now coaches the Chicago Bulls despite a rather fast tempo that was more to their liking.

“We have a lot to hold our heads high for,” forward Jameel McKay said. “But right now, it’s obvious we’re going to be down.”

Iowa State got outscored 52-36 in the paint, with Gill finishing two points shy of a career high and Tobey missing his personal best by one. Gill had eight rebounds while Tobey grabbed seven.

Those two were big reasons why the Cavaliers shot just over 56 percent and came away with the win even despite a quiet game from Brogdon. He had 12 points and five assists.

“I thought the pace of play wasn’t a big deal either way,” Prohm said. “When you really look and break it down, we turned it over a little bit too much (12 times) and they shot 56 percent from the field. In tournament play, we can’t give up that many.”