The Clyde Drexler coaching era at Houston started with a victory. That's the way it usually was during the Clyde Drexler playing era at Houston.
Gee Gervin scored 25 points and made two crucial free throws in the final seconds as the Cougars beat Texas 71-69 Tuesday night.
"We made some mistakes and it got down to one point," Drexler said. "But we had the lead and the ball. The crowd was phenomenal and the team could not have done better."
A capacity crowd of 8,452 heeded billboards around town reading "Come Glyde with Clyde." Drexler got the biggest cheers during pregame introductions but the biggest cheer came late in the second half when the Cougars built a 61-49 lead with 6:54 to play. They almost blew it.
The Longhorns, playing their first game under coach Rick Barnes, went on an 11-2 run and cut Houston's lead to 63-60 with 4:08 to play on a 3-pointer by William Clay.
Gervin, the son of former NBA star George Gervin, then scored Houston's final seven points but it almost wasn't enough. Ivan Wagner's 3-pointer with 44 seconds left cut Houston's lead to 70-69. A turnover gave Texas the ball back but the Longhorns missed three shots before Gervin was fouled and made one of two free throws for the final margin.
"It was a good game for the team and luckily for me, I was able to pull it out at the end," Gervin said. "We came out with enthusiasm and really wanted to set the tone."
| Clyde Drexler's coaching debut was a success as h led his alma mater to a 71-69 victory over the Texas Longhorns. (AP) |
Houston closed out the first half with a 3-pointer and a basket by Chad Hendrick and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Gervin for a 38-28 lead.
The Cougars' revamped Hofheinz Pavilion is sold out for the season for the first time in school history, even encompassing the Phi Slama Jama era of the 1980s featuring Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Chad Hendrick scored 17 points and Kenny Younger added 15 for the Cougars.
"I've been doing this a long time, but I can't tell (about emotion)," Barnes said. "This is why you play. I hope it's like this everywhere we go. But to be a great team, you have to be a good road team."
Kris Clack and Gabe Muoneke led the Longhorns with 16 points each and Clay had 12.
"I'd say it was like going through a lot of adversity," Muoneke said. "We fought hard and I thought we walked into a situation where we were fighting more than just a team, it was also the atmosphere."
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