Men's Basketball Sports

Fans support Cougars downtown during March Madness

Fans arrived outside the George R. Brown Convention Center early to start the festivities before the broadcast even began. | Jhair Romero/The Cougar

Houston punched its ticket to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 35 years after its 74-59 victory over Ohio State Sunday night, and its devoted fans at the Avenida Houston watch party cheered the team on the whole way through.

Hundreds of the Houston supporters poured into the plaza adjacent to Discovery Green in downtown Houston to attend the party being hosted by the University in conjunction with KHOU.

The night began as any other night in the area, but as the 7:40 p.m. tip-off neared, a wave of scarlet began to takeover 1001 Avenida de Las Americas.

Inflatable mascots began to appear in the form of Air Shasta, Cougar Brass played the familiar school chants for fans pouring in and Houston-themed folding lawn chairs began to sprout up throughout the plaza.

Even architecture sophomore Luis Lemus, more famously known as Trash Can Man for his in-game antics, made his presence know by popping out of his red garbage bin unexpectedly to scare innocent patrons.

Local comedian, UH alumnus and emcee of the event Chinedu Ogu quickly got the crowd riled up when the party officially kicked off an hour before tip.

More excitement ensued from the crowd when UH track and field legend and nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis took the stage to show support for his alma mater.

“I was at UH for Phi Slama Jama,” Lewis said to the crowd while reminiscing on his days as a student when Texas’ tallest fraternity roamed Hofheinz Pavilion. “It’s the same feeling now. (Head coach Kelvin Sampson) and the team are getting it going.”

And get it going they did.

Much to the fans’ contentment, the Cougars blazed through the Buckeyes by outrebounding, outshooting and outplaying No. 11 OSU.

Although another watch party has not been announced yet, it is expected that one will be hosted for Houston’s matchup with Kentucky on Friday in Kansas City, Missouri. Meanwhile, fans just hope the Sweet Sixteen will yield yet another win for the dancing Cougars.

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