The Houston Cougars are one of college basketball’s most storied programs. The Cougars have been to the NCAA Tournament 19 times in their school history. The Cougars have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen 10 times, the Elite Eight five times and the Final Four five times. They have played in the National Championship Game twice (1983 and 1984).
The 1983 Cougars were upset in one of the most memorable moments in NCAA Tournament history when the NC State Wolfpack beat them at the buzzer on Lorenzo Charles put back of an air ball at the buzzer. The following season, Guy Lewis’ Cougars made it back to the Championship Game and lost to a great Georgetown team that was victimized by another huge upset the following year, by eighth seeded Villanova.
Houston has participated in some of college basketball’s biggest and most famous games. In 1968, Lewis’ Cougars beat the UCLA Bruins in front of 50,000 fans at the Astrodome. That game has been billed as “The Game of the Century” and helped make college basketball the popular sport it is today. The NC State game is also remembered fondly because it was the crowning achievement of Wolfpack Coach Jim Valvano ten years before his memorable cancer battle.
Houston has also played in the NIT nine times, advancing to the championship game in 1977, where they lost to St. Bonaventure. They have played in the CBI three times, in 2008, 2009 and 2013. They advanced to the semifinals in 2008.
Some of the game’s greatest players played for the Cougars at Hofheinz Pavilion. Akeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler, Otis Birdsong, Bo Outlaw, Michael Young, Don Chaney, and Carl Herrera are among the greats who have played for the Cougars.
Olajuwon and Hayes went on to lead their NBA teams to World Championships. Drexler was also a key player for the championships won in the mid 1990s with Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets.
The Olajuwon, Young and Drexler Cougars were known as Phi Slamma Jamma because the Cougars played a fast paced style that resulted in many dunks. The 1983 National Semifinal game with the Louisville Cardinals was one of the most entertaining, high-flying games in the history of the tournament.
The Hofheinz Pavilion has been the Rockets home since 1964. The place holds over 8,900 fans that are ready to help the Cougars return to the glory days of old. Kelvin Sampson is the head coach in his second year and is going to have his team ready.
You will not want to miss any of the action at the historic Hofheinz for the exciting American Athletic Conference season. This season’s Cougars home schedule will include UL Monroe, Murray State, LSU, Tulane, UConn, USF, Tulsa, SMU, Memphis, UCF, Temple, Cincinnati and more.
image courtesy of uhcougars.com