After Houston took care of Illinois, 68-53, to punch their ticket to a third-straight Sweet 16 on Sunday, the party moved into the locker room. As the players were celebrating the win, a usually straight-faced head coach Kelvin Sampson walked in to cheers from his players, then ripped off his shirt and the celebration was on.
CBS Sports camera crews were in the locker room and captured the scene filled with pure and raw jubilation of a basketball team and their coach after knocking off the higher-seeded Fighting Illini.
A shirtless Sampson raised his arms in victory and was shaking from side to side, with his players showering the coach with water from bottles and a cooler.
A sweet soaking indeed.
It’s a celebration that’ll be hard to top, but one they’re hoping to put on if they’re able to get by either Arizona or TCU in the Sweet 16.
The Cougars faced major adversity in December when guards Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, two of the holdovers from last year's talented squad, were lost to injuries. But instead of folding, Houston's players formed an even tighter bond.
“We got a brand-new bunch,” Sampson said, dried off and fully dressed. “But the culture never changes. Because they’re great kids and they’re high-character kids, they buy in. It’s never about them. Our program is always about we and us, and that’s what happens when you have great kids.”
Fans celebrate win
Fans in Houston celebrated the win at the University’s official Watch Party downtown at Avenidas.
“I'm feeling great. We’re going to San Antonio this year, Final Four champions this year. We got all of it,” Xavier Smith said.
Dozens came out to support the Coogs wearing red and white.
"We're still dancing baby,” Noah Barcot said.
Some said the game was an emotional roller coaster.
"Up and down, up and down a little bit but at the end we came back and put it away,” one fan said.
Others KHOU 11 spoke to said they’re making plans to be front row and center at next week’s game.
“We've been trying to figure out already how are we going to get to SA baby. We got to do this. We'll figure it out,” UH faculty member Andrew Archila said.
Here's how fans celebrated UH's First Round win over UAB: