Houston tops Oregon State, reaches 1st Final Four since ’84
Yes, Houston is going back to the Final Four for the first time since the famed “Phi Slama Jama” era after Monday night's 67-61 win against Oregon State. And Houston knocked down enough free throws late while holding Oregon State without a basket during a critical 3 1/2 minutes. Fittingly, it was DeJon Jarreau — the American Athletic Conference's defensive player of the year who led the effort that stymied Oregon State star Ethan Thompson — who was named the most outstanding player of the Midwest Region. “It was right there within our grasp with the effort we showed in the second half,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. They held the Beavers to 35% shooting in the first half before Oregon State found some openings.
Houston locks in on defense, beats Syracuse 62-46 in NCAAs
Now it's taken coach Kelvin Sampson's team somewhere new: the program's deepest NCAA Tournament run since the days of Olajuwon, Drexler and the famed “Phi Slama Jama." That sent the second-seeded Cougars through to their first regional final in 37 years, earning a matchup with No. Houston (27-3) came in holding opponents to a national-low 37.3% shooting, and then harassed Syracuse (18-10) into just 28% (14 for 50). “It’s the best defense that that we’ve seen this year and they deserved to win,” coach Jim Boeheim said. Syracuse had shot at least 52% each time while making 29 3-pointers — but there would be no repeat of that unexpected 2016 Final Four run thanks to Houston's defense.