Cougars Claw Their Way To #1 In 1983


Today in 1983, the Houston Cougars moved to #1 in the AP Poll. It was UH’s first time in the top spot since 1968. Houston played basketball for 22 years before their first #1 ranking, then another 15 years before their next. It was hard to imagine that it would take 39 years to reach the top spot again, but the Cougars have now done that three separate times in the 2022-23 season.

At the beginning of 1983, the Coogs were #19 in the country but had moved into the top 10 after a 15-point home win over previously unbeaten Arkansas. When February started, UH was #8 and went to #6, then #4, then #2 in the next three polls.

After #1 UNLV lost twice in the last week of February, the Houston Cougars jumped to #1. The Phi Slama Jama craze went into overdrive later in the week when the Cougars went to Fayetteville and knocked off #5 Arkansas, 74-66. It was UH’s first-ever win at Barnhill Arena.

Clyde Drexler on 2/28/83 after learning UH moved to #1 / Victoria Advocate
Guy V. Lewis leaving campus flashes the 1. The AP misspelled Dena’s name / Fort Worth Star Telegram
AP story / The Northwest Arkansas Times

E Cullen was decorated with a vast 1 when the Coogs moved to the top spot / The Houstonian
Phi Slama Jama mania took over campus / The Houstonian

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