Monday, March 18, 1991 | 2 a.m.
TUCSON, Ariz. – On to Seattle!
That was the rallying cry Sunday as top-ranked UNLV withstood one of its stiffest challenges of the season by dispatching Georgetown, 62-54 in the second round of the NCAA West subregional at McKale Center.
Next up for the 32-0 Rebels is Utah, a double-overtime winner over Michigan State. The fourth-rated Utes edged the fifth seeded Spartans, 85-84, to move on to Thursday’s regional semifinals in the Kingdome. Game time for UNLV-Utah will be approximately 8:30 p.m. In the first game, second seeded Arizona meets third ranked Seton Hall at 6 p.m.
The Rebels had to repel several Georgetown challenges, the stiffest being an 11-0 spurt midway through the second half that trimmed a 44-29 UNLV lead to 44-40. UNLV also had to do for the most part without starting center George Ackles, whose sprained foot, suffered Friday in the Rebels’ 99-65 win over Montana, limited him to just 13 minutes against the Hoyas.
Backup Elmore Spencer played a season-high 27 minutes and blocked six shots.
“It was a tough game, a really tough game,” said UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, who defeated Georgetown for the first time in six tries. “One of the toughest I can remember playing it. It seemed like every time we made a great run, we forced things offensively and they came back.”
For the first time this season, the Rebels were outshot from the field by their opponent. UNLV shot a season-low 38 percent for the game from the field while Georgetown shot 39 percent.
But the Rebels made several big shots against Georgetown’s twin towers Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutumbo, most notably Larry Johnson.
Johnson, who led all scorers with 20 points, put back a missed shot that gave UNLV a chance to stem the tide of Georgetown’s 11-0 run. He also hit a pair of free throws after being assessed a technical for mouthing off at Mourning following the foul on Johnson.
But it was a personal 9-0 run by Johnson earlier in the second half that gave UNLV some breathing room after the Hoyas had started quickly with a 6-0 run to cut UNLV’s 29-19 halftime lead to 29-25.
Georgetown managed to come back, but there was enough distance for UNLV to keep the Hoyas at bay. Georgetown, which was considered to be in danger of even participating in the tournament two weeks ago when it was 12-11, finished the season 19-13. Still it was the worst season in 17 years for John Thompson’s club.