- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2002

Three straight ranked opponents, three straight Georgetown losses.

The No. 24 Hoyas haven't beat a ranked team so far this season. They can't execute during crunch time, either.

Sitting pretty with a chance to hand No. 21 Miami its first loss of the season, the Hoyas fell apart in the final minute and a half and allowed the Hurricanes to walk out of the nation's capital with their perfect record intact.

Miami guard Marcus Barnes scored seven points in the final 5:21, including a huge 3-pointer with 2:08 left and Miami leading by just two points, to help lead the Hurricanes to a 79-71 victory over the Hoyas before 6,589 at MCI Center in the Big East opener for both schools.

With 1:30 left and Georgetown trailing 74-71, Hoyas reserve forward Courtland Freeman threw an ill-advised crosscourt pass to point guard Kevin Braswell that sailed into the second row.

Still behind by the same score with 57 seconds left, Braswell missed a driving layup, and 6-foot-10 Miami forward Darius Rice, the nephew of Oakland Raiders receiver Jerry Rice, pulled down the rebound.

Yet, the Hoyas (9-4, 0-1 Big East) still had a chance at victory. With 45.9 seconds left Miami's 6-7 guard John Salmons hit the first of two foul shots that made it 75-71. But Miami center Elton Tyler yanked down the rebound on the second and ended any thoughts the Hoyas may have had about winning this game.

"I think there were combinations of things that happened at the end of the game where we didn't make plays and they did," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. "I thought the rebound on the free throw was a bad play a play we should have made. I thought we did a great job of getting back into the game, and we can not shoot the ball and play the way we did against good teams."

The game started as if the Hoyas wanted to lull the Hurricanes to sleep. Georgetown shot 29 percent from the field (8-for-27), committed 10 turnovers, disappeared defensively Miami (14-0, 1-0) made five of 11 3-pointers and had just three assists to show for the first 20 minutes. The Hurricanes enjoyed a 37-25 halftime lead.

"It seems like we put ourselves in that hole, and it's hard to get out of," said Braswell, who finished with 13 points, six assists, seven rebounds and two steals. "The last three games [against No. 4 Virginia, No. 14 UCLA and Miami] has been against ranked teams. These are big games, and everybody needs to be there ready to play, and it just hasn't happened."

Mike Sweetney, Georgetown's bruising 6-8 sophomore forward, tried to carry the Hoyas. Sweetney scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as the Hoyas went to their power man in the post. In the first half, the Hoyas didn't look to Sweetney, who attempted just six shots.

Sweetney made a 10-foot, midlane pullup jumper that tied the game at 50-50 with 10:39 left. Sweetney scored 13 of Georgetown's 25 points to open the second half and made 10 of 15 shots in the game.

Behind Sweetney, the Hoyas clawed back into the game. After being down by 14 points in the first half, the Hoyas tied the game 68-68 with 3:50 left on a Freeman tip off a Sweetney miss. But then Barnes stepped up to nail his big 3-pointer.

With 2:08 left and the Hurricanes leading by two, Georgetown's aggressive halfcourt defense left Barnes alone at the top of the key. Georgetown freshman guard Tony Bethel ran at Barnes, but it was too late. Barnes got off his shot and buried a 19-foot 3-pointer that gave Miami a 73-68 lead.

All five of Miami's starters scored in double figures. Forward James Jones led the Hurricanes with 22 points, including three of five 3-pointers. Barnes finished with 15 points. Tyler contributed 12 points. Rice ended with 10 points and nine rebounds, and multipurpose guard Salmons, who Esherick called one of the best players in the Big East, finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals.

After this win, maybe the national media will give the undefeated Hurricanes more respect, especially in the polls. If they don't, it's OK with Hurricanes coach Perry Clark.

"We're not looking at what we've done; we're looking at what's ahead of us," Clark said. "I think time will tell all. Earlier, not a lot of people saw us because we didn't have a lot of television exposure. We can't control that [poll]. We've just got to keep playing."

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