Ranking UTEP’s 5 Greatest Basketball Wins
With the Miners just hours away from tip-off tonight against 3rd ranked Arizona, it had me start thinking about the top 5 wins in program history. Two of them are no-brainers, but there could be a good argument about which other key victories would make the list. Here is my personal Top 5:
This game put the Miners and Don Haskins on the college basketball map and years later, would inspire a movie, induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and rewrite history that night. Kentucky's Pat Riley called it a watershed game, although Coach Haskins always claimed that he started his five best players, regardless of color.
Considered the second greatest win in program history, the 9th seeded Miners shocked top seed Kansas, behind 18 points from Johnny Melvin and 14 from Marlon Maxey. For Don Haskins, the win was especially sweet, since his teams had not advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since winning it all, 26 years earlier.
If future NBA star JoJo White's foot had not stepped out of bounds, the Jayhawks would have defeated the Miners that night and forever changed the course of basketball history. Bobby Joe Hill led Texas Western with 22 points and David Lattin pulled down 17 boards in the win that kept their dream postseason alive.
The famous fight was a big part of this intense rivalry between two longtime WAC foes. When BYU's Scott Sinek and UTEP's Luster Goodwin tangled, Miner teammate Kent Lockhart started throwing round house punches at everyone , and almost decked Coach Haskins. The Miners survived this back and forth game in triple overtime, and every fan in attendance (myself included) called this game one of the greatest ever played at the DHC.
The Harlem Globetrotters took thheir 288-game winning streak into the Don Haskins Center and played a UTEP team that had won just six games the previous season. However, the Miners were not the Washington Generals. Instead, Billy Gillispie's team shocked the most famous team in basketball in their final game of a college tour that included wins against Syracuse and Michigan State. Jason Williams scored 19 points and snagged eight rebounds to lead the Miners. Fili Rivera and Omar Thomas added 16 points each, and the Miners would go on to win 24 games that season to complete the great turnaround in program history. The only bad thing about the Globetrotters win was that it did not count in the record book, since it was an exhibition game.