Last week, I tried to describe to a young, unknowing writer about Lucy pulling the football back and Charlie Brown whiffing, falling flat on his back. He did not know that Lucy goads Charlie into trying one more time, and finally, Charlie overcomes his reluctance, only to be met with the same fate as before. He rares back, charges the ball, she yanks it back, and…flop.
Kelvin Sampson plays a pretty convincing Lucy whenever UH and Tulane meet. Ol’ Grandpa encourages Ron Hunter, tells the world that he has a good team, says Tulane is better than they’ve ever been, and then sends him to the locker room on the wrong end of a 20-point thumping.
Grandpa is now 7-0 vs. poor Charlie Brown but always leaves him convinced that next time will be different. Charlie will kick that ball!
Hunter’s team was lively to start the game and had the crowd into it, but then UH started toying with them, hitting big shot after big shot. Houston built the lead to 12 before a phantom foul on a three-pointer cut it to eight just before halftime. Marcus Sasser went to town early in the second half, and it appeared the game was over. But then the Coogs sustained a long shooting drought, and Tulane brought it to within five points at 54-49. Old Fogelman was rocking.
Tulane had cut the 16-point lead down to five and UH had no answer. It was Alabama all over again. A foul on the floor, and there’s the under-12 media timeout with…gulp! 11:11 left.
Make a wish, Green Wave. A one…a two…a helluva Hullabaloo!
With scant basketball tradition to speak of, the Green Wave had roared back against the #1 team in the country. A team with three NCAA Tournament appearances in their history pushing back against a team with a Sweet 16, Final Four, and Elite Eight in the last three Tournaments. This was getting weird.
Appropriate that Tulane went deep into the library to find a Weird Al song to play at the 11:11 timeout.
I’d never heard a Weird Al song at a basketball game, but…has anyone in the last 30 years?
But after the timeout, the Tulane magic faded like Weird Al’s career. Houston clamped down and put on a clinic. Mark hit a pullup after a Jarace steal. A steal by Sasser, and Jarace hits a jumper. Sasser buried a three off a Tulane miss, and the lead jumped to 12. The Greenies gave it their best shot, but the second-place Wave found out there’s a vast gulf between first place and second.
At 63-52, the game went into a long hibernation, without a point scored for nearly three minutes. Houston then ended any remnant of a threat with a 10-2 run once scoring resumed. When Marcus Sasser popped a three with 3:28 to play, hordes of Tulane fans all up got to leave, a seemingly coordinated quitting.
In truth, it was just another day in the office for Cougar Basketball. Every road game, they face a riled-up fan base and players that want to knock off the top dog. Over the last 4+ seasons, UH is 27-11 in conference road games (with five of those losses coming in the 2019-2020 season); 10-2 since the Final Four run.
Ron Hunter and the Green Wave will find kicking that football a lot easier next season, with UH departed for the Big 12. Maybe they’ll become the Lucy in the new-look AAC. But Tuesday night, Kelvin Sampson pulled that ball back one last time at Fogelman.
Maybe next time, Charlie Brown.