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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Men's Basketball

Houston Cougars play their final game at Hofheinz


Sunday will be senior day for five graduating Cougars, including guard Damyean Dotson, forward Danrad” Chicken” Knowles, and center Kyle Meyer | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

The last basketball game to be played at Hofheinz Pavilion will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday between the Houston Cougars (20-9 overall, 11-6 in conference) and the East Carolina Pirates (14-16, 6-11).

Following the game, construction will begin on the new Fertitta Center, which will open in time for the 2018-2019 season. Numerous ceremonies throughout the game will honor the history and celebrate the future of the arena, including a ceremonial groundbreaking at midcourt conducted by UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator and UH System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta during halftime.

UH Athletics has reported that a Houston basketball great will take the last shot inside Hofheinz, with speculation that former Cougars and current NBA hall-of-famers Clyde Drexler or Hakeem Olajuwon might be the mystery player. Fertitta will then be given the ball and will return it at the start of the 2018-2019 season for the opening of the Fertitta Center.

The last time these two teams played, the Cougars made it rain from beyond the arc. Redshirt senior guard Damyean Dotson led the 3-point barrage, going 4-for-6 for 12 points while adding 10 rebounds. Redshirt junior guard and American Athletic Conference top scorer Rob Gray stayed true to form, leading all scorers with 19 points. Off the bench, junior guard Wes VanBeck was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field for 13 points, while freshman guard Armoni Brooks scored 15.

Meanwhile, the defense suffocated the Pirates’ offense, only allowing 58 points and a dismal 3-for-22 showing from downtown. ECU’s shooting woes may have been the result of a stingy Cougars defense or the Pirates’ dead last ranking in the conference when it comes to scoring offense.

The Pirates did help to improve their conference-worst percentage at the free throw line, converting 21 out of 27 free attempts. In comparison, the Cougars only took six attempts, missing once.

The Cougars have rattled off wins in seven of their last nine games, including a five-game winning streak that started in late January and ended in mid-February. During the last matchup, ECU was in the midst of a losing streak that lasted for six games. The Pirates have been inconsistent of late, winning only half of their last 10 games.

If the Cougars end up victorious on Sunday, they will secure the No. 3 seed going into the conference tournament. Conversely, ECU will grab the No. 9 seed no matter the outcome.

The game will be at 3 p.m. and broadcast on CBSSN.

sports@thedailycougar.com

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