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Culture / Sporting Life

ESPN Jumps on University of Houston Hoops Bandwagon in Major Way

College Gameday to Broadcast Live From UH in All-Day Celebration — the National Spotlight is Finally Here

BY // 02.23.19

Chris Paul knows. Hakeem Olajuwon’s made his presence felt. A certain billionaire is a regular. Now, ESPN is jumping in full force too.

The Fertitta Center‘s become one of the surprise epicenters of college basketball this season — and now for the first time in program history, the University of Houston basketball team is getting ESPN’s showcase College Gameday treatment.

College Gameday (and the four letter sports giant’s top college basketball analysts) are headed to UH to broadcast live before next Saturday’s game against UCF. Jay Bilas, Jay Williams, Seth Greenberg and Rece Davis will be in the new $60 million Fertitta Center to see a UH team that’s in the Top 10 for the first time since the days of Phi Slama Jama in person.

Call it another step in UH’s return to national relevance.

“Kelvin Sampson has built a national championship caliber team,” Greenberg says during ESPN’s announcement of the showcase visit, an announcement replayed on the big screen to loud cheers during Houston’s 71-59 win over USF this afternoon.

The College Gameday pregame show starts broadcasting hours before its featured game (in this case at 10 am with the game tipping off at 3 pm) and showcases the program it’s visiting. For the University of Houston and coach Kelvin Sampson, it’s a potentially invaluable recruiting tool.

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ESPN’s most important college basketball voices will be on Cullen Boulevard. They’ll get to see what UH is all about in person.

They’ll likely find quite a scene. Fertitta Center games are not just selling out now with Houston 26-1. Cougar fans are filling it long before the opening tip if today’s game against the University of South Florida is any indication.

New Orleans Saints all-pro running back Alvin Kamara and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator (and proud Texan by birth and Cougar by choice) Wade Phillips both sat in the front row for Saturday’s game.

UH will let students into the arena at 8:30 am for the College Gameday Saturday, with non-students allowed to enter at 9 am. (parking will be free.) It’s shaping up as an all-day Saturday celebration of how far the program’s come under Sampson and the echoes it’s waking up from the past.

This is what 26-1 can do for you. It may have taken a little while, but the national attention is coming.

Home, chic home.

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