They missed a boatload of shots, were outrebounded, had the ball dunked in their faces and lost their composure at times.
But despite looking more mortal than magnificent, top-ranked, top-seeded and undefeated Nevada-Las Vegas ultimately took care of business. UNLV defeated eighth-seeded Georgetown, 62-54, in the second round of the NCAA West Regional Sunday at the McKale Center."It wasn't pretty, but we got what we wanted," UNLV point guard Greg Anthony said. "We didn't play real well."
Nevertheless, the Runnin' Rebels improved to 32-0, stretched their winning streak to 43 games and advanced to the West semifinals Thursday in Seattle against fourth-seeded Utah (30-3). Prior to UNLV's victory, Utah edged fifth-seeded Michigan State, 85-84, in double overtime. The other semifinal matches Arizona (28-6) and Seton Hall (24-8).
Georgetown ended its season at 19-13, the first time since 1976-77 the Hoyas have not won at least 20 games.
UNLV, which entered Sunday's game with an average victory margin of 29.1 points, never led by more than 15 points. Georgetown's defense never allowed the Runnin' Rebels to live up to their nickname.
The Hoyas cut UNLV's lead to five points at 55-50 with 2:22 left, but the Runnin' Rebels made 7-of-8 free throws.
Vegas managed just two spurts, a 13-0 run in the first half and a 13-4 outburst in the second half. It had just 10 fastbreak points.
"We needed those two spurts," UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian said. "The way Georgetown plays defense, it's difficult to get a good shot."
Georgetown's defense, led by intimidating shot blockers 7-2 Dikembe Mutombo and 6-10 Alonzo Mourning and swarming guards Joey Brown and Charles Harrison, limited UNLV to a season-low 37.9 percent field-goal shooting. The Hoyas choked UNLV's running game by dominating in rebounding, 40-33.
Mourning, who had seven points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 2:22 left, wasn't impressed with UNLV.
"The media built them up to be super human beings, like Superman and Batman all rolled into one," said Mourning, who plays with UNLV players during the summer. "We kept it close. We kept our composure."
When UNLV went to the lockerroom at halftime leading 29-19, it was clear the Hoyas weren't going to fold easily.
Offensively, the Runnin' Rebels got a combined eight points in the opening half from their all-America forwards, Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon.
The 6-7 Johnson could not effectively post low and use his power game against Mourning. Augmon did not shoot well against Georgetown's perimeter pressure defense, and finished with nine points.
Tarkanian moved Johnson to the perimeter in the second half to generate offense. He scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in the final 20 minutes. Guards Anthony and Anderson Hunt added 15 and 14 points.
The Hoyas left the court after the game with heads high and fists raised. Hoyas coach John Thompson, however, wasn't celebrating the eight-point loss.
"We're not into moral victories at Georgetown," Thompson said. "We play to win."