One for the ages: Phi Slama Jama vs. the Doctors of Dunk

Finally, a game lived up to the hype. Houston 94, Louisville 81 in the Pit in Albuquerque.

It was the second game of the National Semifinals on April 2, 1983. Many people called it the de facto national championship because they were the two best teams and the two one-seeds remaining (the first semifinal featured six-seed North Carolina State and four-seed Georgia). Houston came out of the tunnel sporting Phi Slama Jama warmups, the first time they’d worn them.

The game was played above the rim in a way few have—before or since. UH had 14 dunks in the game, including six in a row at one point, and the talent on display was legendary. The game featured two Hall of Fame coaches with 11 Final Fours between them, six first-round NBA picks, and four second-round picks.

Houston trailed with 13 minutes to play in the game, 57-49, before Guy V. Lewis switched his zone defense to man-to-man. That defensive change woke up the sleep-walking Cougars.

UH went on a 21-1 run that started with an alley-oop from Clyde Drexler to Michael Young for a one-handed slam, followed by a dunk from Drexler and a driving dunk from Benny Anders. The Cougars put on an absolute clinic in the second half, shooting 65% (24/37), with 11 baskets coming via a dunk.

Akeem was the star of the show, scoring 21 points, grabbing 22 rebounds, and blocking eight shots. Clyde Drexler scored 21 points, had seven rebounds and six assists, and Louisville’s Milt Wagner had 24 points.

It did not end up as a buzzer-beater or a super-close game, but Houston flying by Louisville in 1983 is one of the Tournament’s true historical gems.

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