CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia coach Tony Bennett was concerned about how his team started against George Washington on Friday, as the Cavaliers trailed at halftime for the first time this season despite winning a fourth game in a row.
A fast start was not a problem Tuesday.
The eighth-ranked Cavaliers led 17-2 in the first six minutes before going on a 32-0 run midway through the game en route to a 79-36 thrashing of Tennessee State in the first meeting between the teams.
Virginia guard Justin Anderson had 20 points, forward Anthony Gill had 16 points and nine rebounds, and reserve center Mike Tobey chipped in with 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, 12 on the defensive glass.
“We took care of business right off the jump,” said Anderson, who made all seven of his field-goal attempts, including five from 3-point range. “We were smart with our ball movement. We got the job done early.”
Gill was also perfect from the field, making six field goals in just 19 minutes of play.
“We played together as a team. Defensively we played really well tonight,” Gill said.
The Cavaliers got a lift from 7-footer Tobey, whose previous career high in rebounds was nine against VCU in 2012.
“That was his first double-double. I don’t get too much into stats,” said Bennett, who added that defensive rebounding is a key for his team. “Mike has improved in that. He is going after the ball. I like that part of his game. That is an improved area.”
Tobey added, “We were strong and aggressive. There was a lot of energy.”
The Cavaliers are 5-0 to start a season for the first time since 2007-08. They won their 15th game in a row at home, with all but one coming by at least 10 points.
Virginia outscored Tennessee State 32-0 from late in the first half to early in the second half.
“That is definitely the best team we will play this year,” Tennessee State coach Dana Ford said.
The Cavaliers held foes to 33 percent shooting or less in the first five games as Bennett was able to start clearing his bench midway through the second half. Tennessee State shot 29.2 percent.
Virginia won each of its first five games by at least 17 points but could be tested Friday against La Salle in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I know Barclays is a beautiful arena,” Anderson said. “I can’t wait to see how we match up.”
Tennessee State (2-3) was paced by reserve guards Marcus Roper and Xavier Richards with 10 points each. The Tigers were coming off a 32-point loss at Vanderbilt on Sunday.
Ford said of the Cavaliers, “They are extremely good.”
Virginia, one of the top defensive teams in the country, led by 25 at halftime and took its first 30-point lead early in the second half on a basket by Anderson. Virginia led 57-17 after a basket by reserve guard Marial Shayok.
“The challenge for the guys was to come out the right way,” Bennett said. “Against GW there was a little trouble with the way we started.”
Virginia scored the first 20 points of the second half. Tennessee State finally got on the board on a basket by Richards with 12:29 left to make the score 62-19.
Virginia jumped out to a 10-2 lead on a 3-pointer and free throw for a rare four-point play by Anderson. Anderson then hit a traditional 3-pointer to make it 13-2 less than four minutes into the game, and the Cavaliers never looked back.
“It was time for us to show what we have been working on,” said Shayok, who finished with seven points.
NOTES: Tennessee State plays Friday against St. Peter’s in New Jersey. … G Jay Harris led Tennessee State in scoring in the first four games, but he did not score Tuesday in 26 minutes. … Tennessee State’s Dana Ford is the youngest Division I coach in the country at 30 … Virginia began the week ranked second in the nation in field-goal-percentage defense at 29.4 percent.
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