The Houston Cougars men's basketball team represents the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, in the NCAA Division I men's basketball competition. They compete as members of the Big 12 Conference. The program has made six appearances in the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament Final Four, which is tied for 10th most all-time, along with the most for any team who has not won a national championship.
|University||University of Houston|
|All-time record||1,403–877 (.615)|
|Head coach||Kelvin Sampson (10th season)|
|Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Arena||Fertitta Center |
|Student section||The Cage|
|Colors||Scarlet and white|
|NCAA tournament runner-up|
|NCAA tournament Final Four|
|1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2021|
|NCAA tournament Elite Eight|
|1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2021, 2022|
|NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen|
|1956, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023|
|NCAA tournament appearances|
|1956, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2010, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023|
|Conference tournament champions|
|Southwest: 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1992|
The American: 2021, 2022
|Conference regular season champions|
|Lone Star: 1946, 1947|
Gulf Coast: 1950
Missouri Valley: 1956
Southwest: 1983, 1984, 1992
The American: 2019, 2020, 2022, 2023
Early history (1945–56) edit
Although the University of Houston already had a women's basketball program, the Houston Cougars men's basketball program did not begin until the 1945–46 season. Alden Pasche was the team's first head coach. In their first two seasons, the Cougars won Lone Star Conference regular-season titles and qualified for postseason play in the NAIA Men's Basketball tournaments in 1946 and 1947. The Cougars had an all-time NAIA tournament record of 2–2 in two years.
During Pasche's tenure, the Cougars posted a 135–116 record. Under his leadership in 1950, the Cougars won the Gulf Coast Conference championship. Future College Basketball Hall of Fame coach Guy Lewis played for Pasche, eventually becoming an assistant coach before being handed the job upon Pasche's retirement.
Guy Lewis era (1956–86) edit
Pasche retired after the 1955–56 season, and Houston assistant Guy Lewis was promoted to the head coaching position. Lewis, a former Cougar player, led Houston to 27 straight winning seasons and 14 seasons with 20 or more wins, including 14 trips to the NCAA tournament. His Houston teams made the Final Four on five occasions (1967, 1968, 1982–84) and twice advanced to the NCAA Championship Game (1983, 1984). Among the outstanding players who Lewis coached are Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Otis Birdsong, Dwight Jones, Dwight Davis, Don Chaney and Louis "Sweet Lou" Dunbar.
Lewis's UH teams twice played key roles in high-profile events that helped to popularize college basketball as a spectator sport. In 1968, his underdog, Elvin Hayes-led Cougars upset the undefeated and top-ranked UCLA Bruins in front of more than 50,000 fans at Houston's Astrodome. The game became known as the “Game of the Century” and marked a watershed in the popularity of college basketball. In the early 1980s, Lewis's Phi Slama Jama teams at UH gained notoriety for their fast-breaking, "above the rim" style of play as well as their overall success. These teams attracted great public interest with their entertaining style of play. At the height of Phi Slama Jama's notoriety, they suffered a dramatic, last-second loss in the 1983 NCAA Final that set a then-ratings record for college basketball broadcasts and became an iconic moment in the history of the sport. Lewis's insistence that these highly successful teams play an acrobatic, up-tempo brand of basketball that emphasized dunking brought this style of play to the fore and helped popularize it amongst younger players.
Houston lost in both NCAA Final games in which Lewis coached, despite his "Phi Slama Jama" teams featuring superstars Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. In 1983, Houston lost in a dramatic title game to the North Carolina State Wolfpack on a last-second dunk by Lorenzo Charles. The Cougars lost in the 1984 NCAA Final to the Georgetown Hoyas, led by Patrick Ewing. Lewis retired from coaching in 1986 at number 20 in all-time NCAA Division I victories, his 592–279 record giving him a .680 career winning percentage.
As a coach, Lewis was known for championing the once-outlawed dunk, which he characterized as a "high percentage shot", and for clutching a brightly colored red-and-white polka dot towel on the bench during games. Lewis was a major force in the racial integration of college athletics in the South during the 1960s, being one of the first major college coaches in the region to actively recruit African-American athletes. His recruitment of Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney in 1964 ushered in an era of tremendous success in Cougar basketball. The dominant play of Hayes led the Cougars to two Final Fours and sent shock waves through Southern colleges that realized that they would have to begin recruiting black players if they wanted to compete with integrated teams.
Welcome to Conference USA (1996–2004) edit
After 21 years in the Southwest Conference, the Cougars joined Conference USA in 1996. Under head coach Alvin Brooks, the basketball program had a disappointing initial season in C-USA. The team went 3–11 against C-USA teams in 1996–97. The next season was even more futile. Brooks, who had led the Cougars since 1993, coached the Cougars to a rock bottom conference record of 2–14 in 1997–98. The last, and only other, time the Cougars recorded only two conference victories in a season was in 1950–51; their first season in the Missouri Valley Conference.
One of Houston's biggest sports icons and one of the Cougars best basketball players ever, Clyde Drexler was hired to coach the program that he led as a player to the 1983 NCAA Final as part of Phi Slama Jama. Basketball excitement was back on campus, and fans looked forward to the promising years to come. After just two seasons with minimal success, Drexler resigned as head coach citing his intention to spend more time with his family.
Ray McCallum was hired to do what Clyde Drexler could not—lead the Cougars to a winning season and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. After losing seasons in each of his first two years, McCallum guided the Cougars to an 18–15 record in 2001–02. That season, the team won two conference tournament games and qualified for the National Invitation Tournament. However, the team regressed in the following season and failed to qualify for even their own C-USA tournament.
Two steps forward, one step back (2004–07) edit
Tom Penders was named as the head coach of Cougars basketball in 2004. Known as "Turnaround Tom" for his reputation of inheriting sub-par basketball programs and making them better, Penders was hired to rebuild a program that recorded only one winning season in its last eight years. After a surprising debut season in 2004–05 that led to an NIT appearance, the team had high hopes to build on their relative success and make the NCAA tournament in 2006.
The 2005–06 season looked promising at the outset. The Cougars started their first game on a 30–0 scoring run against the Florida Tech Panthers. Less than two weeks later, the Cougars beat the nationally ranked LSU Tigers on the road and the Arizona Wildcats at home. The surprising wins earned the Cougars their first national ranking in several years. The team that seemed destined for an NCAA tournament berth failed to capitalize on their success and national recognition and began to stumble after a loss to South Alabama Jaguars in December. The Cougars won only one conference tournament game and had to settle again for another NIT bid.
Dubbed as "The Show," the 2006–07 Cougars entered the season with cockiness and strong expectations to finally make it into the NCAA tournament. A difficult schedule matched the Cougars with seven different teams that would end up qualifying for either the 2007 NCAA tournament or NIT. Houston lost three times to the Memphis Tigers and once each to Arizona, the Creighton Bluejays, the Kentucky Wildcats, South Alabama, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, and the VCU Rams. By going 0–9 against these quality teams, the Cougars proved they were not worthy of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Not surprisingly, two conference tournament wins against lower seeds and an unimpressive 18–15 overall record were not even enough to earn the team an invitation to the NIT.
Team goal: NCAA tournament (2007–10) edit
In 2007–08 the team introduced a new nickname ("The Show—In 3D") and a slightly new uniform (a changed trim design). The team hoped to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1992. Eight straight home games from November 21 to December 29 helped the Cougars get off to an 11–1 start. However, the team lost most of its critical games at the end of the season, including their last two games (both against the UTEP Miners). Houston received an invitation to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational tournament and defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Valparaiso Crusaders but lost to their conference rival, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, in the semifinal round.
The 2008–09 season began on November 11 with a two-point loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles; this was the first game of the Division I college basketball season and the opening game of the 2K Sports Classic tournament in Durham, North Carolina. A Cougars win would have meant a second round matchup with the Duke Blue Devils. Overall, the Cougars played a balanced home and away regular season schedule. Fifteen games (three in November, three in December, four in January, three in February, and two in March) were played at Hofheinz Pavilion. There were 14 away games (two in November, two in December, five in January, and five in February).
The 2009–10 team finished the regular season 15–15 and 7–9 in C-USA, finishing seventh place in the conference. Following a 93–80 win over East Carolina in the first round of the C–USA Tournament, the Cougars beat Memphis 66–65, ending a string of four tournament titles for the Tigers. In the next game, they defeated Southern Miss 74–66 to advance to the championship game. Finally, the Cougars beat #25 ranked UTEP 81–73 to earn the conference's bid to the NCAA tournament, their first since 1992. In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Houston, seeded 13th, was defeated 89–77 by 4th-seeded Maryland.
Penders announced his resignation as Houston head coach on March 22, 2010.
Joining the American (2013–23) edit
In March 2014, Dickey stepped down as head coach because of "private family matters". In four seasons with Houston, Dickey amassed a 64–62 record with no NCAA tournament appearances or conference titles.
On April 3, 2014, Houston hired Kelvin Sampson as the new Cougars head coach. Sampson had just become eligible to be a college coach again after receiving a five-year show cause penalty in 2008 for sanctions against him during his time as Indiana head coach. In 2014–15, Sampson's first season, Houston struggled again, finishing with a 13–19 record and 4–14 in the AAC.
In 2018–19, the Cougars' success continued as they set a program record for wins with a 33–4 mark. They were AAC regular-season champions but fell in the finals of the conference tournament. They proceeded to the NCAA tournament, where they reached the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 35 years.
In 2020–21, the Cougars were ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation. After winning the AAC Tournament, the Cougars were awarded a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. UH defeated Cleveland State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Oregon State to achieve their first Final Four appearance since 1984. They would lose to eventual national champions Baylor in the Final Four.
During the 2021–22 season, the Cougars won the AAC regular season championship with a 15–3 conference record. They then defeated Cincinnati, Tulane and Memphis to win the conference tournament. With the conference championship, an overall record of 29–5 and ranked No. 15 in the nation, Houston received a #5 seed in the NCAA tournament. In the tournament, UH defeated UAB, Illinois and Arizona before losing to Villanova in the Elite Eight.
Hello Big 12 edit
In September 2021, the University of Houston was invited to join the Big 12 Conference, along with Cincinnati, UCF and BYU. The Cougars began Big 12 play in the 2023–24 season.
Conference affiliations edit
Top 25 finishes edit
|Season||Final Record||AP Poll||Coaches Poll|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2021)
Recent records edit
|As American Athletic Conference member|
|Season||Overall record*||The American tournament record||Postseason record||Head coach|
|2014–15||13–19 (4–14)||1–1; Lost in quarterfinals||Kelvin Sampson|
|2015–16||22–10 (12–6)||0–1; Lost in quarterfinals||0–1 in NIT||Kelvin Sampson|
|2016–17||21–11 (12–6)||0–1; Lost in quarterfinals||0–1 in NIT||Kelvin Sampson|
|2017–18||27–8 (14–4)||2–1; Lost in finals||1–1 in NCAA||Kelvin Sampson|
|2018–19||33–4 (16–2)||2–1; Lost in finals||2–1 in NCAA||Kelvin Sampson|
|2019–20||23–8 (13–5)||N/A**||Kelvin Sampson|
|2020–21||28–4 (14–3)||3–0; Won championship||4–1 in NCAA||Kelvin Sampson|
|2021–22||32–6 (15–3)||3–0; Won championship||3–1 in NCAA||Kelvin Sampson|
|2022–23||33–4 (17–1)||2–1; Lost in finals||2–1 in NCAA||Kelvin Sampson|
* Overall record includes regular season and tournament/postseason results; regular season conference record in parentheses
** The 2020 American Conference and NCAA tournaments were cancelled due to concerns with COVID-19.
Head coaches edit
|Alden Pasche||1945–1956||135–116 (.538)||63–55 (.534)||4||1|
|Guy Lewis||1956–1986||592–279 (.680)||134–98 (.578)||2||4||14|
|Pat Foster||1986–1993||142–73 (.660)||70–38 (.648)||1||1||3|
|Alvin Brooks||1993–1998||54–84 (.391)||25–46 (.352)|
|Clyde Drexler||1998–2000||19–39 (.328)||7–25 (.219)|
|Ray McCallum||2000–2004||44–73 (.376)||24–40 (.375)|
|Tom Penders||2004–2010||121–77 (.611)||56–38 (.596)||1||1|
|James Dickey||2010–2014||64–62 (.508)||26–40 (.394)|
|Kelvin Sampson||2014–present||232–74 (.758)||117–44 (.727)||4||2||5|
Note: Through 2022–23 season.
Postseason play edit
NCAA Men's Division I tournament results edit
The Cougars have appeared in 24 NCAA tournaments. Their combined record is 38–29.
Regional 3rd-place game
Regional 3rd-place game
Regional 3rd-place game
Regional 3rd-place game
National 3rd-place game
|New Mexico State
National 3rd-place game
Regional 3rd-place game
Regional 3rd-place game
|New Mexico State
|1972||Regional Quarterfinals||Texas||L 74–85|
|1973||Regional Quarterfinals||Southwest Louisiana||L 89–102|
|1978||(4Q)||Regional Quarterfinals||(2L) Notre Dame||L 77–100|
|1981||#8||First Round||#9 Villanova||L 72–90|
|#11 Alcorn State
#8 Boston College
#1 North Carolina
National Championship Game
#4 Memphis State
#6 NC State
National Championship Game
|#10 Louisiana Tech
#6 Memphis State
#4 Wake Forest
W 49–47 OT
|1987||#12||First Round||#5 Kansas||L 55–66|
|1990||#8||First Round||#9 UC Santa Barbara||L 66–70|
|1992||#10||First Round||#7 Georgia Tech||L 60–65|
|2010||#13||First Round||#4 Maryland||L 77–89|
|#11 San Diego State
|#14 Georgia State
#11 Ohio State
|#15 Cleveland State
#12 Oregon State
|#16 Northern Kentucky
#5 Miami (FL)
NIT results edit
The Cougars have appeared in 11 National Invitation Tournaments (NIT). Their combined record is 5–11.
|1985||First Round||Lamar||L 71–78|
|1991||First Round||Stanford||L 86–93|
|1993||First Round||UTEP||L 61–67|
|2002||Opening Round||Vanderbilt||L 50–59|
|2005||Opening Round||Wichita State||L 69–85|
|2016||First Round||Georgia Tech||L 62–81|
|2017||First Round||Akron||L 75–78|
The Cougars have appeared in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) three times. Their combined record is 3–3.
|2009||First Round||Oregon State||L 45–49|
L 84–88 OT
NAIA tournament results edit
The Cougars have appeared in the NAIA tournament twice. Their combined record is 2–2.
L 42–44 3OT
Houston Cougars in the NBA draft edit
Individual awards edit
National Coach of the Year award winners edit
John McLendon Award
National Player of the Year award winners edit
|†||Consensus First-Team selection|
|‡||Consensus Second-Team selection|
|AP||Associated Press||USBWA||United States Basketball Writers Association|
|NABC||National Association of Basketball Coaches||UPI||United Press International|
|1956||Don Boldebuck||C||AP (HM)|
|1960||Gary Phillips||G||AP (HM)|
|1961||Gary Phillips||G||USBWA (1st), AP (HM)|
|1962||Lyle Harger||F||AP (HM)|
|1963||Lyle Harger||F||AP (HM)|
|1966||Elvin Hayes||PF/C||AP (HM)|
|1967||Elvin Hayes†||PF/C||AP (1st), USBWA (1st), NABC (1st), UPI (1st)|
|1968||Don Chaney||SG||AP (HM)|
|Elvin Hayes†||PF/C||AP (1st), USBWA (1st), NABC (1st), UPI (1st)|
|1969||Ken Spain||C||AP (HM)|
|1970||Ollie Taylor||G||AP (HM)|
|1971||Dwight Davis||PF||AP (HM)|
|Poo Welch||G||AP (HM)|
|1972||Dwight Davis||PF||AP (2nd)|
|1973||Dwight Jones||PF/C||AP (HM)|
|1974||Louis Dunbar||F||NABC (5th), AP (HM)|
|1975||Otis Birdsong||SG/PG||AP (HM)|
|Louis Dunbar||F||AP (HM)|
|1976||Otis Birdsong||SG/PG||AP (HM)|
|1977||Otis Birdsong†||SG/PG||AP (2nd), USBWA (1st), NABC (1st), UPI (1st)|
|1981||Rob Williams||PG||AP (3rd)|
|1982||Rob Williams||PG||AP (HM)|
|1983||Clyde Drexler‡||SG/SF||AP (2nd), USBWA (1st), UPI (3rd)|
|Larry Micheaux||PF||AP (HM)|
|Akeem Olajuwon||C||AP (HM)|
|Michael Young||SF||AP (HM)|
|1984||Akeem Olajuwon†||C||AP (1st), USBWA (1st), NABC (1st), UPI (2nd)|
|Michael Young||SF||AP (3rd), NABC (3rd), UPI (3rd)|
|1985||Alvin Franklin||PG||AP (HM)|
|1986||Cadillac Anderson||PF/C||AP (HM)|
|Alvin Franklin||PG||AP (HM)|
|1990||Carl Herrera||PF||AP (HM)|
|1999||Gee Gervin||G||AP (HM)|
|2021||Quentin Grimes||SG||AP (3rd), USBWA (3rd), NABC (3rd), SN (3rd)|
|2023||Marcus Sasser†||SG/PG||AP (1st), USBWA (1st), NABC (1st), SN (2nd)|
Note: HM stands for Honorable Mention.
Conference Player of the Year edit
The following Houston players have been named Conference Player of the Year while at UH.
|2020–21†||Quentin Grimes||SG||The American|
† co-Player of the Year
Conference Coach of the Year edit
The following Houston coaches have been named Conference Coach of the Year while at UH.
|1955–56||Alden Pasche||Missouri Valley|
|2017–18||Kelvin Sampson||The American|
Individual Honors edit
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees edit
The following Houston players and coaches have been enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
|Year Inducted||Name||Position||Years at Houston||Ref.|
Retired numbers edit
The Cougars have retired the numbers of five men's basketball players:
See also edit
- "Logos - University of Houston Athletics". June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
- "First UH basketball Coach Pasche dead". Houston Chronicle. 1985-05-10. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- Duarte, Joseph (November 26, 2015). "Legendary UH basketball coach Guy V. Lewis dies". chron.com. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Duarte, Joseph (May 26, 2016). "Guy V. Lewis remembered as pioneer, innovator, visionary". chron.com. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Lopresti, Mike (March 31, 2016). "March Madness: How 1968's Game of the Century forever shaped basketball history". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Joyce, Dick (March 29, 2020). "AP Was There: NC State stuns Houston 54–52 for '83 title". Associated Press. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Grobeck, Joe (April 30, 2020). "'Phi Slama Jama' Invented the Art of Dunking". fanbuzz.com. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Solomon, Jerome (November 26, 2015). "Guy V. Lewis was much more than just a basketball coach". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Duarte, Joseph (December 19, 2019). "Duarte: Guy V. Lewis' Hall of Fame induction tops all UH sports moments in 2010s". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Guy V. Lewis II, Hall of Fame college basketball coach, dies at 93". The Washington Post. November 28, 2015. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Racism charged in pay to new Houston coach". United Press International. June 24, 1993. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Houston Fires Coach Brooks". Associated Press. March 1, 1998. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Barron, David (March 18, 2020). "This date in UH history: Clyde Drexler returns as coach". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Drexler Quits As Houston Coach". CBS. March 30, 2000. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Ball State's McCallum hired as basketball coach at University of Houston". Brainerd Dispatch. April 20, 2000. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Cougars Play At Vanderbilt In Opening Round Of The 2002 NIT". uhcougars.com. March 10, 2002. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Barron, David (March 23, 2004). "UH hands reins to Penders With audio, poll". chron.com. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Men's Basketball Game Notes at Houston, 12/3/2005". arizonawildcats.com. December 3, 2005. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
- Murphy, Michael (March 26, 2008). "UH NOTEBOOK: Penders enthusiastic about format of CBI". chron.com. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
- "Houston Postgame Notes vs. Georgia Southern (Nov. 10, 2008)". uhcougars.com. November 10, 2008. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
- Murphy, Michael (November 10, 2008). "Reloaded Cougars ready for basketball season". chron.com. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
- Lindsey, Shawn. "COUGARS MAKE IT TO THE "BIG DANCE"". uh.edu. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Men's Basketball Fights Hard But Falls To Maryland 89–77 at NCAA tournament". uhcougars.com. March 20, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Coach Tom Penders Steps Down at Houston - ABC News". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2010-03-25.
- "Ex-Tech coach James Dickey wins race for UH job". Houston Chronicle. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "Cougars' Dickey resigns; Sampson in line?". ESPN.com. 24 March 2014. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "UH reaches five-year deal with Kelvin Sampson". Houston Chronicle. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "Houston Meets #3 Baylor in NCAA Final Four". uhcougars.com. April 2, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- Gleeson, Scott (April 3, 2021). "Final Four: No. 1 Baylor catches fire to rout No. 2 Houston, reach men's national championship". usatoday.com. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
- "Houston Cougars School History".
- "SRCBB – Matchup Finder". Sports-Reference.
- "SRCBB – Matchup Finder". Sports-Reference.
- "Houston Cougars NBA Draft Picks". en.hispanosnba.com.
- "NBA Draft Picks From Houston". www.basketball-reference.com.
- "List of AP All-American Teams in Men's Division I Basketball". Retrieved April 22, 2021.
- Duarte, Joseph (March 9, 2021). "UH's Quentin Grimes gets All-American recognition". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "Houston Cougars basketball history". Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- "Houston Cougars basketball history". Retrieved March 24, 2022.
- "Elvin Ernest Hayes 1990". www.hoophall.com.
- "Clyde Austin Drexler 2004". www.hoophall.com.
- "Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon 2008". www.hoophall.com.
- "Guy Vernon Lewis 2013". www.hoophall.com.