Jim "Bad News" Barnes showed up at Capital Centre yesterday in his Texas Western warm-up jacket, prepared to watch his alma mater -- now known as Texas-El Paso -- get trampled by fifth-ranked Georgetown.
"With all the hype Georgetown has had, I didn't think UTEP had a chance," said Barnes, one of the school's all-time best players who is now a Washington businessman.
The Miners disagreed. They also handed Georgetown its first non-conference loss at home in eight years, 71-60. The Hoyas had won 52 straight non-conference home games since a 63-62 loss to American in December 1982.
"It's a heck of a win," Miners Coach Don Haskins said. His 30 seasons at the school have included quite a few big victories, including one in the 1966 NCAA tournament final that was played just around the Beltway, at Cole Field House.
The Miners, who had not been able to muster more than five players for practice this week because of exams, used an athletic, well-schooled defense that collapsed on Georgetown's vaunted inside duo of 6-foot-10 Alonzo Mourning and 7-2 Dikembe Mutombo. Those two got just 10 shots, and the Hoyas' guards shot a combined 14 of 43.
A 13-5 run by the Miners gave them a 60-50 lead with a little more than six minutes to play. But Georgetown held them without a basket for nearly four minutes and moved within 61-60.
However, guard Henry Hall (Parkdale High School) made a jumper in traffic with 14 seconds on the shot clock and 2:13 on the game clock. The Hoyas never replied. They missed their last six field goal attempts and last two foul shots.
Forward Johnny Melvin led the Miners (5-2) with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. Forward Marlon Maxey and Hall had 12 points each, and center David Van Dyke had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
Mourning (11 points) and freshman guards Joey Brown (14 points on five of 13 shooting) and Charles Harrison (10 points on five of 16 shooting) were the only players in double figures for Georgetown. Mutombo was limited to seven points but added nine rebounds and seven blocks.
"We made a run back at them, for which I was very pleased," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said. "But we were worn out after doing it, couldn't overcome it and they kept their poise.
" . . . I saw some good signs, and it's never concerned me whether we lost or won at this time of year. I think it's more important that we become a better team, and I might be more satisfied with this game than I am with any game we've had this year in terms of the development of our team in the long run."
For all but a few minutes, the game went exactly the way the Miners wanted. They controlled the tempo, playing patiently on offense and using aggressive man-to-man defense to keep Georgetown from getting the ball inside cleanly.
The Hoyas created chaos for just two stretches: the one near the game's end and one during the latter portion of the first half when they turned a 21-16 deficit into 24-21 lead. And in a pair of stunning plays midway through the second half, 6-8 Maxey dunked on Mutombo and 6-2 Mark McCall completed a beautifully executed alley-oop play by dunking on Mourning, who was not at full strength in his first game since he strained an arch against Duke on Dec. 5. "I thought they did an excellent job of dropping back and collapsing inside," Thompson said. "At times we didn't hit shots that normally we'll be able to hit later on, but defensively they did a good job."
Haskins said there were no new wrinkles, just proper execution of the usual defense. But he did a masterful job of juggling his lineup after 6-8 Von Bennett and Maxey committed their fourth fouls during two-minute span midway through the second half. He also switched from man-to-man to zone several times during final four minutes.
"They were quick to the ball," Mourning said. "They played pretty good defense. They played together and a lot of things went their way. . . . Things like this are going to happen. You just don't want it to happen all the time."