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How Houston men’s basketball reached the 2021 men’s Final Four

The Houston Cougars are headed to the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. We break down how they got there, with key players and critical moments throughout the season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Oregon State at Houston IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Cougars enter the Final Four with one of the most efficient offenses and defenses in the entire country, and their balance is a huge reason they find themselves in college basketball’s semifinals for the first time since the Phi Slama Jama team in the 1983-84 season. Houston is the second team head coach Kelvin Sampson has brought to the Final Four as he did the same with the Oklahoma Sooners in 2002.

Regular season

Houston went undefeated in a limited non-conference slate and went 14-3 in AAC play. The Cougars did a significant amount of damage to teams they were much better than this season with 14 wins by more than 20 points. Houston went through a COVID-19 pause in December where they went more than two weeks in between games. In addition, last year’s leading scorer Caleb Mills left the team to transfer around New Year’s, making this run to the Final Four even more unpredictable.

NCAA Tournament

While it’s been a fun ride to get this far, it’s fair to point out the Cougars have certainly gotten a favorable road to the Final Four. Through four games, Houston has yet to face a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars took down Cleveland State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Oregon State, and they did what they needed to do in order to advance out of the region to just one win away from appearing in the national title game.

Key players

The Cougars are led by former Kansas Jayhawks player Quentin Grimes, in his second season with Houston. He averages 18 points per game as the leading scorer with 5.8 rebounds and also leads the team with 1.4 steals per game. He knocks down 41.2% of his three-point attempts. Senior guard Dejon Jarreau does it all for the Cougars with 10.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. Senior forward Justin Gorham hits the glass hard with an average of 8.7 boards per game to go with his 8.5 points.