On the back of another monster performance from do-everything senior guard Rob Gray, Houston downed a tough San Diego State squad on Thursday evening, notching their first NCAA tournament victory since 1984.
Houston staved off a second-half push from San Diego State to claim a 67-65 victory. Gray was a one-man show, dropping a career-high 39 points and eight assists, including the Cougars’ final seven points and a pair of final-minute buckets that gave Houston the two-point cushion it needed to survive the first round. He took 25 shots from the field, knocking down 12, including 4-of-6 from long range.
While the program name may still sound familiar, it’s been a while since the program’s been in this position. The same place that gave the world the legendary Phi Slamma Jamma teams of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Michael “Silent Assassin” Young has been in a bit of a rut the past 34 seasons. The final Phi Slamma Jamma team, like its 1983 counterpart, advanced all the way to the 1984 national title game—that was the last time Houston advanced to the second round in the NCAA tournament. Thursday’s benchmark win comes four years into Kelvin Sampson’s run as head coach.
Houston secured a second-round matchup with Michigan or Montana, who somehow have to follow that amazing finish.