Houston executed its game plan – smothering Syracuse sharp-shooting guard Buddy Boeheim – and walked away with a 62-46 win on Saturday to advance to the Elite Eight of the men's NCAA Tournament.
It's Houston's first Elite Eight since 1984 – when the Cougars lost to Georgetown in the national championship game.
The No. 2 seeded Cougars (27-3) limited Boeheim to 12 points on 3-for-13 shooting, including 1-for-9 on 3-point attempts. In the first two games, the coach's son torched his opponents with 13 made triples for 55 points. But Houston wasn't about to let the No. 11 seeded Orange (18-10), once a bubble team that upset No. 6 San Diego State and No. 3 West Virginia to get here, ruin its March Madness aspirations.
For all the bracket-busting upsets and double-digit seeds prevailing in this tournament, Houston has stayed true to its No. 2 seed after finishing second in the American Athletic Conference and winning the league's tournament. The Cougars face No. 12 seed Oregon State on Monday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Marcus Sasser and Quentin Grimes of the Houston Cougars react in the second half of their Sweet Sixteen game against the Syracuse Orange in the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. (Photo: Andy Lyons, Getty Images)
AAC player of the year Quentin Grimes, a Kansas transfer, carried Houston once again with 14 points. Senior forward Justin Gorham added 13 points. Coach Kelvin Sampson's team was well prepared for Syracuse's signature 2-3 zone defense, utilizing quick ball movement and dribble penetration to keep the offensive momentum in Houston's favor throughout the game.
Coach Jim Boeheim put off his retirement in 2018 in large part to coach his son, Buddy. Buddy "Buckets" Boeheim had his moment in the spotlight this March – as the catalyst to a Sweet 16 team.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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