CHICAGO — Anthony Gill finished with a season-high 23 points, Mike Tobey came off the bench to score 18, and top-seeded Virginia beat Iowa State 84-71 in the Midwest Region semifinals on Friday night.
The Cavaliers (29-7) 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 will face Syracuse or Gonzaga on Sunday. A win would send the Cavaliers to their first Final Four since 1984, when coach Tony Bennett was a teenager.
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 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, the Cyclones never could recover from a flat start in the arena where “The Mayor” now coaches the Chicago Bulls.
They 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.
ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon added 12 points and five assists for the Cavaliers.
Virginia was leading 49-35 early in the second half when Iowa State went on a 9-2 run that Monte Morris finished with a floater, drawing a roar from a large contingent of Cyclones fans.
But Virginia kept its cool and got the lead back up to 15 — 63-48 — on a put-back by Tobey with 9:10 remaining.
With many in the crowd wearing Iowa State’s Cardinal and Gold, Virginia did all it could to silence them in the early going. The Cavaliers led by as much as 17 and took a 45-31 advantage to the locker room.
Devon Hall hit a 3 on the game’s opening possession, London Perrantes added two more, and in a flash it was 17-3 just over five minutes into the game.
The Cavaliers exposed gaps whether Iowa State was playing man-to-man or zone. They showed some flash, too, like when Darius Thompson delivered a behind-the-back pass to Isaiah Wilkins for a fast-break dunk that made it 26-9.
Iowa State cut into the lead late in the half, with Niang nailing a 3 to make it 41-31 with just over a minute left. But Virginia regrouped.
Gill and Brogdon each hit a pair of free throws to make it a 14-point game and a soaring Gill blocked Niang’s layup at the buzzer.