SWEET SENDOFF: University of Houston heads to Kansas City to compete in Sweet 16

TULSA, Oklahoma (KTRK) -- It's a sweet sendoff for the Houston Cougars men's basketball team, which is headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984.

The Coogs arrived in Kansas City Wednesday to compete in the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

They'll face Kentucky Friday after beating Ohio State.

"We definitely put in the time, the work. We definitely earned the right to be here, and that's what makes it that much sweeter," said UH's Galen Robinson, Jr.

The school's celebration was long overdue, 35 years to be exact, since the Cougars have made this trip.

It's so special, some feel that this year's team is bringing back the tradition and excitement of the "Phi Slama Jama" era.

"I have gotten calls and texts from all over the country, so people really do notice," said President Renu Khator. "They say athletics are the window to the university, and people say, 'Oh, Houston!' Then they learn a little bit more about Houston."

SEE MORE: UH in Sweet Sixteen brings Phi Slama Jama era echoes

UH will host a watch party for the game versus Kentucky Friday at 6 p.m. at the Fertitta Center.

The Auburn versus North Carolina game will be shown first at 6:30 p.m. followed by the Houston - Kentucky game at 9 p.m.

The event is free.

ORIGINAL STORY: University of Houston defeats Ohio State, earns spot in Sweet 16
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