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Iowa State struggles early, falls to Virginia 84-71

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CHICAGO (AP) Deonte Burton insisted the final game of the season was not the end for Iowa State. Even so, this was a painful way to bow out of the NCAA Tournament.

Anthony Gill finished with a season-high 23 points, Mike Tobey came off the bench to score 18, and top-seeded Virginia beat the Cyclones 84-71 in the Midwest Region semifinals on Friday night.

''I'm pretty confident we'll be back in this position,'' Burton said.

If they are, they had better start on a stronger note.

The fourth-seeded Cyclones (23-12) just about got blown off the court in the early going and could not make up for it in the second half, so Virginia (29-7) advanced to its first regional final since 1995.

The Cavaliers will face Syracuse - a 63-60 winner over Gonzaga - on Sunday. A win would send them to their first Final Four since 1984 and give Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett and his father the distinction of leading teams there. Dick Bennett coached Wisconsin to one in 2000.

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 ACC Player of the Year Malcolm 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.''


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 colors, Virginia did all it could to silence them early. 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.

''We've got a good offensive team as well,'' Perrantes said. ''But we hang on our hats on the defensive end. I feel like we've been playing our best defense as of late.''


Iowa State guard Matt Thomas on fan support: ''It's awesome they came out here and showed that much support. I wouldn't trade them for any other fan base in the country. They're just as much a part of this Sweet Sixteen run as we were.''



Iowa State: The Cyclones came in averaging 82.1 points.

Virginia: Virginia is headed to its seventh regional final. ... The Cavaliers' seniors tied the Class of 1983's school record with their 112th win.


Iowa State: Season over.

Virginia: Faces Gonzaga or Syracuse on Sunday.