The first round begins with the heavy favorites, the 1966 National Championship Miners playing the scrappy and balanced 1990 Miners.
Last week I posted the first matchup of my Ultimate Miners Bracket, otherwise known as the best way for Miner basketball fans to kill time in between seasons. The votes are in, and you thought the 1990 Miners led by Marlon Maxey, Henry Hall, Antonio Davis, and Greg Foster would beat Tiny Archibald's 1970 Miners in the play-in game of the bracket. But how would they do against the champs? Below are the two teams' stats and a few notes:
(1) 1966 Texas Western Miners
1966 ROSTER FG%, RPG, PPG
Bobby Joe Hill, JR 41.1, 3.0, 15.0
David Lattin, SR 49.4, 8.6, 14.0
Orsten Artis, SR 47.0, 3.5, 12.6
Nevil Shed, JR 49.4, 7.9, 10.6
Harry Flournoy, SR 50.0, 10.7, 8.3
Willie Worsley, SO 40.3, 2.3, 8.0
Willie Cager, SO 41.0, 4.0, 6.6
Louis Baudoin, JR 38.6, 1.3, 2.2
Jerry Armstrong, SR 27.9, 1.4, 1.9
David Palacio, SO 25.0, 0.5, 0.9
Dick Myers, JR 33.3, 0.6, 0.9
Togo Railey, JR 0.0, 0.0, 0.3
TEAM STATS : FG%, FT%, RPG, PPG
TWC : 44.6, 69.9, 49.3, 77.9
Opponents : 40.1, 70.9, 36.2, 62.7
Like all of Don Haskins' best teams, the 1966 Miners showcased a very balanced scoring attack. Four players averaging double figures and Flournoy and Worsley averaging near double figures as well. What really stands out on the stat sheet is that rebounding margin. The Champs out-rebounded opponents by more about 13 rebounds per game. I don't really have to say much about the individual stars on the team. Bobby Joe Hill is a Miner legend and Lattin, Shed, Flournoy, Worsley, Artis, and Cager are as well.
1966 NOTABLE WINS & LOSSES
-Beat the #4 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes by 18 in the championship of the Sun Carnival Classic
-Pounded the NMSU Aggies twice (by 26 and 17)
-Only loss of the year was by 2, on the road at Seattle
-Surprisingly, the 1966 Miners only had 2 games during the regular season against teams that would go on to play in the NCAA Tournament. They were both against the Colorado State Rams and were both victories. Of course, back then only 22 teams were invited to the Big Dance.
1966 NCAA TOURNEY RESULTS
The Miners opened up the tournament by beating the Oklahoma City Okies by 15 in the first round with Hill scoring 24 points and Lattin having a monster double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds. The Miners then edged Cincinnati in the Sweet Sixteen led by a 29-point performance from Lattin and 3 other Miners who scored in double digits. In the Elite Eight, the Miners beat the Kansas Jayhawks by 1 in an overtime thriller that featured Lattin record his second double-double of the tourney. The Miners then beat Utah with the help of a double-double from Bobby Joe (18 pts, 11 rebounds). They didn't keep assist statistics back then, otherwise we might know if he had recorded a triple-double. And lastly, in possibly the greatest moment in Miner athletics, the Miners beat the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats 72-65, despite Pat Riley and Louie Dampier each scoring 19 for the Wildcats. Bobby Joe Hill led all scorers with 20, Lattin and Artis had near double-doubles each.
1990 UTEP Miners
Record: 21-11 (10-6 in WAC, Tied for 3rd)
1990 ROSTER FG%, RPG, PPG, AST
Marlon Maxey, SO 54.7, 7.8, 12.4, 0.6
Henry Hall, FR 45.7, 1.7, 11.7, 2.7
Antonio Davis, SR 52.2, 7.6, 10.8, 0.6
Greg Foster, SR 46.5, 6.2, 10.6, 0.9
Prince Stewart, JR 48.0, 2.6, 8.6, 5.6
Mark McCall, JR 53.1, 3.3, 7.3, 0.8
Joe Griffin, JR 45.5, 1.6, 5.1, 3.8
David Van Dyke, SO 45.1, 2.9, 4.9, 0.4
Arlandis Rush, SR 27.8, 0.5, 1.5, 0.8
Francis Ezenwa, JR 47.6, 1.9, 0.9, 0.0
Merle Heimer, JR 20.0, 0.7, 0.2, 0.0
Chris Perez, FR 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0
STATS : FG%, FT%, RPG, PPG, APG, BKPG
UTEP : 49.1, 70.6, 36.5, 69.5, 14.1, 5.8
Opponents : 44.0, 63.4, 32.0, 64.0, 14.5, 1.8
The 1990 Miners look like a good mix of older juniors and seniors (Davis, Foster, Stewart) and younger guys (Maxey, Hall). The scoring attack is about as balanced as it gets. The Miners had 4 players average in double digits, but unlike the 1970 Miners, no one averaged more than 13 ppg. Two other players (Stewart and McCall) averaged at least 7 points per game. The biggest margin in the statistics is UTEP's superior advantage in blocks per game (5.8 to 1.8 per game). No doubt this was one of the biggest Miner teams in recent memory.
1990 NOTABLE WINS & LOSSES
-Split season series with NMSU, winning by 3 in El Paso and losing by 13 in Las Cruces.
-Lost to #11 Indiana at home by only 3 points
-Lost to South Carolina by 3 in first round of Sun Carnival Classic
-Hosted WAC Tournament and earned the automatic bid after defeating New Mexico, Air Force, and then Hawaii in the Championship highlight here
-The 1990 Miners played 8 games in the regular season against eventual NCAA Tourney teams going 2-6. They beat NMSU and BYU at home, and lost to Arkansas-Little Rock, BYU and NMSU on the road, Indiana at home, and got swept by Colorado State.
1990 NCAA TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Antonio Davis recorded a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) and the Miners had two others in double digits scoring (Maxey with 17 and Hall with 16), but the Miners lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers by 3 in overtime. Minnesota would then beat Northern Iowa in the second round and upset Syracuse in the Sweet 16 before finally losing to Georgia Tech in the Elite 8. The Final Four included former Miner Nolan Richardson and his Arkansas Razorbacks as well as eventual champion UNLV, Duke, and Georgia Tech.
On paper these two Miner teams are pretty similar. They both have a strong rotation of about 8 players and are very balanced in terms of scoring. The major difference in stats is in the rebounding. The 1966 Miners had a huge advantage over opponents in that regard. It's nice to imagine the post matchups in this contest. Greg Foster and Antonio Davis versus David Lattin, Harry Flournoy, and Nevil Shed. In my mind, the 1990 Miners put up a fight for a half, maybe even all the way through, but you can't go against the 28-1 1966 team. Bobby Joe Hill and the TWC Champs are too much.
But what do you think? Vote below and I'll send the team with most votes through to the next round where they would play the winner of next week's matchup: (8) the 1967 Miners vs (9) the 1987 Miners
Who would win this matchup?
1966 Texas Western Miners (67 votes)
1990 UTEP Miners (19 votes)
86 total votes