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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Men's Basketball

Basketball ends tournament drought, draw Aztecs

The men’s basketball team fell short in the conference title game but earned its first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2010, drawing the San Diego State Aztecs in the first round. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The men’s basketball team fell two points short of winning the American Athletic Conference Tournament title, falling 56-55 against the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats. But the team still earned a ticket to “the big dance.”

On Sunday, the Cougars were officially announced as the No. 6 seed in the West Region and were pitted against the No. 11 seed San Diego State Aztecs. Their game will be played Thursday in Wichita, Kansas at Intrust Bank Arena.

The Aztecs earned an automatic bid to the tournament by winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament Final. They compiled a 22-10 record and beat the New Mexico State Lobos 82-75 in the aforementioned title game.

This marks the first time UH basketball has reached the tournament since 2009-10 season, when they won the Conference USA Championship.

A postseason berth for the Cougars was considered certain by the time they reached the conference tournament. Over the course of the regular season, the Cougars went 15-0 at home, the first time they went undefeated at home since the 1983-84 season. They beat ranked opponents Wichita State and Cincinnati, ranked No. 7 and No. 5 at the time, in that span.

In addition, they had wins over the Arkansas Razorbacks of the SEC and the Providence Friars, the runners-up in the Big East Conference.

Overall the fact the Cougars made the AAC championship game erased any doubts that they did not deserve to be in the NCAA tournament.

For head coach Kelvin Sampson, the Cougars become the fourth school he has coached to the NCAA Tournament.

Information on how to purchase tickets can be found here. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and will be broadcast on TBS.

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