Despite Losing the AAC title game Sunday in Orlando, the Cougars will be seeded 6th in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region and take on San Diego State Thursday in Wichita.
In Kelvin Sampson’s fourth season as coach, Houston heads to the tournament for the first time since 2010 with a 26-7 record. If the Cougars beat San Diego State, they’d take on the winner of Michigan/Montana Saturday. It will be Sampson’s first trip the NCAA Tournament since 2007 while with Indiana. He led Oklahoma to the Final Four in 2002.
Houston fell to Cincinnati 65-55 in the last game played before the brackets were revealed Sunday. The Cougars fell behind 12-2 early, but with Cincinnati up 20-11, Corey Davis Jr. knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers starting a 16-2 Houston run, and the Cougars led 37-35 at halftime, but could only muster 18 points of offense in the second half, though they still had a chance to win.
Down 52-51 with just over two minutes to play, Devin Davis hit back-to-back jumpers to give Houston a three point lead, but with 59 seconds left, a Kyle Washington triple tied the game. The Cougars had two shots to regain the lead, but Davis and Rob Gray missed jumpers, and after Gray’s miss, Houston’s Nura Zanna was called for a foul going for the rebound. Gary Clark split the free throws, but after a timeout, a Gray turnover sealed the game for the Bearcats. Gray’s 17 points led Houston.
The Cougars aren’t the only team that will represent the city of Houston as Texas Southern qualified for the second straight year and fourth time in the last five seasons under Mike Davis. The Tigers will take on North Carolina Central in a first four game Wednesday night in Dayton. If they win, they’d take on top seeded Xavier Friday night in Nashville.
After losing 13 straight games, all on the road, to start the season, TSU finished the year 15-19. The Tigers beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 84-69 in the SWAC championship game Saturday.