UTEP Basketball: Ultimate Miners' Bracket Championship (1)1966 vs. (6)1989

Ultimate Miners' Bracket Championship Matchup - (1) 1966 Texas Western Miners vs. (6) 1989 UTEP Miners

The matchup we've all been waiting for is finally here. This week, the championship matchup, will be the last piece of the summer long Ultimate Miners' Bracket series. Most were probably pretty certain heading in that the 1966 National Champion Miners would be in this spot, but I'm not sure how many saw the 1989 Miners matching up against them.

Of course, the 1966 team featured many Miner greats like Bobby Joe Hill, David Lattin, and Nevil Shed, but the 1989 Miners had their fare share of Miner greats as well. That team boasted the likes of Tim Hardaway, Greg Foster, Antonio Davis, and many more.

Both of these teams were extremely well rounded, and had absolutely no issues finding scoring from multiple positions on the court. Their rotations, usually went at least 7-8 deep, but there were certainly other options for each should they need them. Here's a look at what the rosters of these teams looked like:

(1) 1966 Texas Western Miners

1966 TWC Miners YR FG% AST BLK STL 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

(6) 1989 UTEP Miners

1989 TEAM ROSTER YR FG% AST BLK STL RPG PPG
Tim Hardaway SR 54.8 179 8 93 4.0 22.0
Antonio Davis JR 54.4 14 24 12 8.0 14.3
Greg Foster JR 48.4 18 20 6 7.3 11.1
Prince Stewart SO 56.6 126 4 38 2.5 10.9
Jerry Johnson JR 53.7 35 8 6 6.2 9.9
David Van Dyke FR 46.0 7 90 18 4.0 5.6
Mark McCall SO 57.1 13 5 8 2.1 5.3
Johnny Melvin FR 50.0 38 12 18 3.1 5.2
Arlandis Rush JR 28.6 22 2 7 0.4 1.9
Francis Ezenwa SO 30.6 1 16 5 2.8 1.5
Rodney McKoy JR 31.6 5 0 5 1.5 1.3
Merle Heimer SO 28.6 0 0 0 0.2 0.3

As far as the stat lines go, the 89' Miners hold a slight advantage in scoring, but the 66' Miners held a significant advantage in rebounding. And, while that should certainly be a boost for Texas Western, the 89' Miners were much more efficient shooting the basketball. That difference, might help close the gap somewhat in rebounding.

Here's a quick look at both teams' stats:

(1) 1966 Texas Western Miners

1966 TEAM STATS FG% AST BLK STL RPG PPG
TWC Miners 44.6 - - - 49.3 77.9
Opponents 40.1 - - - 36.2 62.7

(6) 1989 UTEP Miners

1989 FG% FT% RPG APG BLK STL PPG
UTEP Miners 51.5 66.9 36.9 13.8 5.7 6.5 78.4
Opponents 44.2 65.3 34.0 11.8 1.9 4.8 67.2

We all know that 66' Miners went on the win the national championship, but here's a closer look at exactly what both teams did throughout the regular season, and in the NCAA Tournament.

Teams' Records

Team Overall Record Conference Record Results vs. NCAA Tournament Teams
(1) 1966 TWC Miners 28-1 N/A 2-0 (Both wins versus Colorado State)
(6) 1989 UTEP Miners 26-7 11-5 (T-2 WAC) 3-2 (Beat Colorado State twice, and South Carolina State. Lost to Colorado State and Indiana.

NOTABLE WINS & LOSSES

1966
- Beat #4 Iowa Hawkeyes by 18 in Sun Carnival Classic
- Blew out the New Mexico St Aggies twice
- Only loss of the year was at Seattle by 2

1989
- Started the season 15-2
- Swept New Mexico State Aggies
- Lost to Indiana Hoosiers on the road by 18
- Beat Cleveland State and Maryland to win the Sun Carnival Classic
- Beat Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado State to win the WAC Tournament in Salt Lake City

NCAA TOURNAMENT RESULTS

1966
Despite the fact that the Miners had only 1 loss on the season, they were still forced to play in one of the five play-in games that made up the first round of the 1966 tournament. In that regional play-in game the Miners beat Oklahoma City by 15. Awaiting them in the round of 16 were the Cincinnati Bearcats, who along with Kansas and SMU received a free pass to the round of 16. The Miners needed overtime and 29 points from David Lattin to get past the Bearcats 78-76. In what we would now call the Elite Eight, the Miners played and barely defeated the Kansas Jayhawks 81-80. The Miners won both their Final Four matchups by 7 points against the Utah Runnin' Utes and the Kentucky Wildcats.

1989

In a field of 64 teams, the 1989 Miners received a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In their first round matchup, the Miners beat the LSU Tigers with the help of near double doubles from Tim Hardaway (31 pts, 9 asts) and Antonio Davis (13 pts, 9 rbds) and strong supporting performances from Stewart, Melvin, and Foster. In the round of 32 the Miners met again with Bob Knight's powerful Indiana Hoosiers squad, who had beaten them by 18 in the regular season. The rematch did not go very well for the Miners either. In that game, Hardaway scored 20 points, but only shot 28% from the field (compared to his season average of almost 55%). The Miners were also out-assisted by the Hoosiers 23-10.

****

Both of these teams featured some extremely great talents, and both accomplished great feats in their own right. They were extremely well rounded squads, and featured a combination of size, speed, athleticism, and experience.

Yes, the 1966 Texas Western team won the National Championship, but that's not to say that the 89 Miners weren't just as talented. In fact, three Miners from the 1989 squad went on to experience lengthy careers in the NBA.

When comparing these two, one has to take a look at things beyond just wins and losses. The intangibles speak volumes as well. The stats say plenty too. Yes, scoring was fairly even, but the 89' Miners shot the ball with much more efficiency.

Yes, the 66' Miners were dominant on the boards, but would things be different facing a team that shot better the 50% from the field for the season? More than that, would that rebounding advantage shrink when facing a team with length of the 89' Miners? Who knows.

Both of these teams go down in UTEP history as two of the best ever to don the Orange and Blue. But, only one will be able to be considered the best ever. Now, its time to make that decision. So, who is the best team ever in UTEP history? You make the call.

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