UH March Madness roundup: How to get Sweet 16 tickets, and No. 1 Coogs' tribute to Reggie Chaney

Greg Bailey Image
Monday, March 25, 2024
Houston gets a breather before taking on Sweet 16 foe Duke in Dallas
The Houston Cougars returned to campus early Monday after a thrilling overtime win against Texas A&M to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Dallas.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The University of Houston Cougars men's basketball team returned to the city early Monday morning after working overtime to clinch a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

The No. 1-seeded team in the South Region of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held a 13-point lead late in regulation against the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies on Sunday night.

UH turned an assured victory and trip to Dallas into a fight for its tournament life when the Aggies erased the double-digit advantage, punctuated by Andersson Garcia's buzzer-beating three-pointer to tie.

Houston, though, held on for the 100-95 win in the extra five-minute period.

The Coogs get time to breathe before heading up Interstate 45 to American Airlines Center for their fifth consecutive Sweet Sixteen matchup. They face the storied Duke Blue Devils program for a spot in the Elite Eight.

However, after the final buzzer, much of the talk was about who UH senior Jamal Shead and others alluded to postgame.

Fallen former teammate honored

"Our kids didn't play together. They played for each other, and that's a big difference in that," head coach Kelvin Sampson summed up the Cougars' thrilling win over A&M.

Afterward, UH players admitted they couldn't watch much of the overtime period after the Aggies used a 13-3 run in the final 84 seconds to force the extra period. But the Cougars said they always believed they would find a way to win and advance.

"Us winning with four fouled-out players is a perfect description of the program and the culture behind it," Emanuel Sharp said after the sophomore from Tampa scored a career-high 30 points to lead UH.

Sharp had to watch from the bench with fellow starters L.J. Cryer, Jamal Shead, and Ja'vier Francis. At the same time, reserves like Ramon Walker and walk-on Ryan Elvin battled to preserve UH's lead in overtime.

Walker came on to play a vital role after many had declared his season over following a knee injury.

Instead, the Shadow Creek High School product kept working behind the scenes to prepare for the postseason. Walker was one of many UH players who cried as they tried to describe what they had done to escape a great effort from the Aggies.

"Joy and relief," Walker said as he took a deep breath at his locker.

SEE MORE: Former University of Houston basketball star Reggie Chaney dead at 23

Walker was one of the Cougars who mentioned a spirited halftime speech from Sampson when he asked his team, "What would Reggie do?" referencing Reggie Chaney, the popular UH player who died last year.

"We definitely did that for Reggie (Chaney)," senior forward J'Wan Roberts said.

"I just miss my dog," Jamal Shead said about his former teammate.

SEE MORE: Former UH basketball star Reggie Chaney died of fentanyl overdose, medical examiner rules

Sweet Sixteen tickets

The Houston Cougars afforded their fans a more accessible and affordable trip to see them in March Madness.

The Coogs' No. 1 seeding and second overall allowed them to get at least the next best preference of region when the tournament was organized. Lucky for them, Dallas was the South Region's Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight site.

A roundtrip plane ticket to Memphis for the first two rounds now transitions to a four-hour car ride up I-45.

On Monday, the university reminded fans they would need to request tickets for UH's games played at American Airlines Center on Friday and possibly Sunday.

A look at UH's ticketing website showed seats averaging $175-$180. Those wanting to purchase had a 5 p.m. deadline Monday to reserve.

The tip-off time on Friday is set for 8:39 p.m. but may slide depending on the length of the earlier North Carolina State-Marquette game before it.

The Sweet Sixteen matchup marks the first time the historic men's programs faced off, even with Duke's 46 tournament appearances to UH's 25.

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More coverage on UH's March Madness run

Houston's Jamal Shead (1) celebrates during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Houston. Houston won 73-65.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip