Division II or top 20, apparently it makes no difference to Georgetown. The Hoyas beat four small-college opponents, and everyone said they hadn't been tested. Yesterday, Georgetown beat 20th-ranked Nevada-Las Vegas, 82-46, before 11,287 at Capital Centre.

And the top-ranked Hoyas (5-0) still haven't been tested.

"It was a big step from Division II to Division I," junior guard Horace Broadnax said, "so we were a little concerned. We prepared a little more, but we still did a lot of things wrong."

With its usual smothering defense, Georgetown forced UNLV into 32 turnovers, held the Runnin' Rebels to 30 percent shooting and gave Jerry Tarkanian his worst defeat in 12 seasons at Las Vegas.

"I never dreamed we'd get beaten this badly," said Tarkanian, who began the season with the highest winning percentage among active college coaches.

"We needed some intelligence and we had none out there. Our offense was horrible, our shot selection was horrible, our passing was horrible. We had no recognition of what they were doing. We had no offense."

Was there anything else Tarkanian would like to add? "We were cold and rattled and played with no poise."

Coach John Thompson didn't think his Hoyas played particularly well, especially in a half-court offense. But he had to be somewhat pleased with senior forward Billy Martin, who scored a game-high 17 points and got 11 rebounds.

Patrick Ewing furnished 16 points and 13 rebounds. Michael Jackson had 14 points with nine assists. Reggie Williams, back in the starting lineup, scored 14.

"Our perimeter players were standing around in one position," Broadnax said. "We call it 'locking the floor.' And we didn't have the proper rotation in low post, high post."

After allowing UNLV to pull to 9-8, Georgetown outscored the Rebels, 24-10, with Martin making a couple of base line jumpers and Ewing getting an emphatic two-handed dunk off a feed from Jackson.

David Wingate's layup following a steal by Martin put the Hoyas' lead at 33-18. UNLV never got closer than nine points thereafter.

Those who watched on national television may assess Georgetown as unbeatable. Thompson doesn't.

"You don't judge the race by where the horses stand coming out of the gate," Thompson said. "The country talks score. I'm talking execution of things we want to accomplish."

Georgetown led, 35-24, at halftime after former Hoya Anthony Jones hit a 25-footer just before the buzzer. Georgetown's defense had played well enough for the lead to be much higher. And as Thompson said, "If we were converting our breaks into baskets, we'd have been up by 40."

It would get there in time, largely because UNLV couldn't make any baskets. The Rebels, who over the years helped define run-and-gun basketball, had no fast breaks to remember and no dunks while the game was competitive.

In fact, the Rebels found it difficult to pass to wing men, or even get the ball in bounds, against the Hoyas.

"We just let their press rattle us and that took us right out of the game," said Jones, who shared his team's scoring lead with Elridge Hudson at nine points apiece. Richie Adams, the Rebels' 6-9 center who averages 16 points per game, got in early foul trouble, didn't score in the first half and ended with one field goal and two free throws.

Las Vegas, which perennially averages more than 80 points, stood around taking long jump shots like St. Leo -- the Hoyas' last (Division II) opponent, which lost by only 20.

Dunbar High alumnus Jones, a sleek, 6-foot-6 guard, had hoped for a better homecoming. He was the one UNLV player bold enough to take the ball inside in the first half, including the time he sank a finger roll over 7-foot Ewing.

Jones obviously was pressing to do well against his former mates. He led his team with 12 rebounds and had two spectacular blocked shots in the first half. But the Rebels needed baskets, and Jones made only four of 19 shots for the game, missing all eight in the second half.

Jones wasn't the only one who shot poorly. Ed Catchings missed six of eight from the field, Frank (Spoon) James missed four of seven and Armon Gilliam missed five of six.

It was the third time Georgetown has beaten UNLV in 12 months and the first time in 10 years the Rebels have started a season by losing two of the first three games.

Tarkanian talked about having a young team, "with three redshirts and two point guards who have never been point guards before. We need work. We'll be good before long, I hope."

Though Thompson's team won, his postgame message was about the same. But Thompson teams peak in February and March, not December. He smiled when he said, "If we had all the bugs out at this point in time, we'd have nothing to look forward to but getting worse."

Many people in the Centre, desirous of seeing a competitive basketball game, undoubtedly left wishing the Hoyas would stick around and play the Los Angeles Lakers, who were entering the building for their meeting with the Bullets about the time the Hoyas were leaving.

Jones said he doubts anyone in the Big East can beat Georgetown. But Ewing said with raised eyebrows, "If we don't improve, somebody down the line will beat us."