Heading To Houston, Looking Ahead to Huskies’ Next Opponent

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Omar Calhoun, Phil Nolan, UConn men's basketball

WINDSOR LOCKS – Flying bright and early out to Houston on Monday, where I’ll meet up with the Huskies in the late afternoon. Let’s look ahead to the next game, the AAC opener against Houston on New Year’s Eve.

A few fun facts … Okay, maybe just facts  …

*One of those AAC teams that’s got to be happy to be in the conference, coming from C-USA,  a program that could eventually be raised up by the presence of UConn. But Houston has an interesting basketball history of its own, with Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwan, Clyde Drexler, Otis Birdsong, Dwight Jones, Don Chaney, Michael Young and Sweet Lou Dunbar among the stars who played for Guy Lewis between 1955 and 1986.

*Elvin Hayes and Lou Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, matched up in what was billed as the “Game of the Century” on Jan. 20, 1968. It was an experiment in nationally televised regular season college basketball, with 120 stations picking up the syndicated broadcast. Houston ended UCLA’s 47-game winning streak with a 71-69 upset on Hayes two free throws. Many consider this game as a precursor to what college basketball on TV would become.

*Remember “Phi Slamma Jamma?” Lewis liked to play up-tempo and was one of the first coaches to encourage the slam dunk. The Cougars reached the Final Four in 1967, 1968, 1982, 1983 and 84. They lost the championship at the buzzer to NC State in 1983, and lost to Georgetown in ’84.

*Houston has been to the NCAA Tournament only four times since 1984, and has lost in the first round all four times, most recently in 2010, after which former UConn guard Tom Penders resigned as coach after six seasons. Penders had taken Houston to its first NCAA Tournament in 18 years.

*Okay, this season … The Cougars, coached by James Dickey, are 8-5, including 6-1 in the Hofheinz Pavilion, where they will play UConn on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.

*They began the season with a 54-52 win over Rice. Among their losses – 86-76 to Stanford on Nov. 25.

*TaShawn Thomas is the Courgars’ star, averaging 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds. Thomas, 6-foot-8, is 37 for 67 from the free throw line.

*Houston is shooting 46 percent from the floor, 34 percent on threes, outrebounding its opponents by 0.8 per game.

* Guard L.J. Rose has 56 assists, 29 turnovers.

*The Cougars have 11 players from Texas, five from The City of Houston.

For the Monday Courant, a story on Omar Calhoun and Phil Nolan responding well after being taken out of the starting lineup.

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