CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Mike Tobey is the X factor for No. 6 Virginia, and when the 7-footer is a big factor, the Cavaliers are dangerous.
Tobey scored a season-high 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and brought a toughness he is sometimes missing on Sunday. That sparked the Cavaliers at both ends of the floor in a nearly surreal and record-setting 76-27 victory against Harvard.
“When Mike can do that, I think he can be the key for us most nights,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said.
“If he can come out and just be physical — it’s not even for him scoring points. If Mike can come out and be a presence, whether it’s blocking shots, scoring, rebounding. Tonight he was doing it all. I thought he was tremendous,” Brogdon said.
Tobey scored the Cavaliers’ first nine points, and did all his scoring before halftime.
“I feel like once I get one to go in the beginning, my confidence is a lot higher,” he said.
The Cavaliers had more going for them than their big man against the Crimson.
Virginia, 11-0 for the first time since the 1992-93 season, held Harvard to an NCAA record-tying one field goal in the first half, and it came just 3:29 into the game. Harvard’s next field goal came almost 20 minutes later, with just 16:38 remaining. Only Savannah State, with one field goal in the first half against Kansas State on Jan. 7, 2008, had done that before.
The Cavaliers, who won their 17th in a row at home, led 39-8 at halftime, the second time this season they have held an opponent to eight points in a half. Rutgers managed just eight after halftime in 45-26 loss to the Cavaliers on Nov. 29.
Said Brogdon: “I think we’re playing at a very high level right now.”
Brogdon also scored 15 for Virginia (11-0), and nine other players scored as coach Tony Bennett emptied his bench.
Harvard (7-2), coming off a 12-day break for exams, looked rusty from the start and unprepared to have such difficulty getting inside or in finding open shots from the perimeter. Its only basket in the first half came on a drive by Zena Edosomwan with 16:31 left, and Harvard missed its final 15 attempts.
“That was my fault,” Tobey said of the lone first-half bucket.
Corbin Miller led the Crimson with eight points. Scoring leader Wesley Saunders missed all seven shots from the field and scored four points. The Crimson finished 8 for 50 (16 percent) and were outrebounded 45-25.
The Crimson also became the second consecutive team held to four points in the first 12 minutes — Virginia did it to Cleveland State on Thursday night. The Cavaliers started the day second in the nation, allowing just 48.1 points per game.
“You can’t simulate certain things in practice,” coach Tommy Amaker, whose team arrived having won six in a row. “You can’t simulate size or length or athleticism or whatever the case may be. When you are facing it front and center, and we certainly were doing that, and when it knocks you back, can you hold the fort? We weren’t able to do that.”
The Crimson’s string of missed shots stretched to 19 before Steve Moundou-Missi scored on a drive with 16:38 remaining. That made the score 45-12, and the Crimson eventually trailed by as many as 49 points.
It was out of hand quickly, and the recovery expected from the Crimson never came.
Tobey made all six of his shots in the half and scoring 15 points to go with five rebounds and a block.
Harvard: Harvard finished with one assist. … Harvard arrived averaging 69.2 points through eight games.
Virginia: The Cavaliers dominated while getting nothing from Anthony Gill, who was in foul trouble and scored three points.
ONE ON FIVE:
Because of Tobey’s quick 15 points and Harvard’s inability to score, Tobey was outscoring the Crimson by himself until Miller’s second 3-pointer of the game fell with 12:02 remaining, making the score 56-18.
Harvard’s 27 points are the second fewest allowed by Virginia in the shot clock era, which began in 1986. Rutgers’ 26 points earlier this season is the fewest. … Harvard’s 16 percent shooting is the lowest field goal percentage by a Virginia opponent. The previous low was 19 percent by Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 8, 2012.
Harvard plays at Arizona State next Sunday.
Virginia hosts Davidson on Dec. 30.
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