On March 23, 1984, the #5 Houston Cougars took care of #16 Memphis State in the Sweet 16, 78-71, in the Midwest Regional. Two days later, UH would become the first team ever to win the Midwest Regional three years in a row.
It was the second year in a row that PSJ beat Memphis in the Sweet 16 in Missouri.
Point guard Alvin Franklin was consistent with his jumper early, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the first half. Franklin’s offense opened up the middle for Akeem Olajuwon to do his work.
“When I hit from outside, they had to come out to play me, and we were able to get it to Akeem,” Franklin said.
Before the game, Olajuwon decided to enact a vow of silence. Akeem wanted to “concentrate on basketball” as the UH press release said. Olajuwon was exhausted from the constant press questions about turning pro.
UH took command of the game early, leading 29-20, but Memphis chipped at the lead and it was just a one-point game at the half. Guy V. Lewis switched to “our crazy 1-3-1 zone” to start the second half. That’s the defense the Cougars used to edge Arkansas in the SWC Championship on March 11.
After trading leads with the Tigers, Akeem nailed a hook shot with just under 17 minutes to go that put the Coogs ahead for good. The Dream finished with 25 and 13 to go with four blocks in a game where he played the entire 40 minutes.
“Houston played exceptionally well,” Memphis coach Dana Kirk said. “I had seen them earlier in the season and didn’t think they were as good but that wasn’t the case tonight.”
Michael Young struggled offensively all evening but had seven-consecutive points including a three-point play that extended the UH lead to 52-44. He finished with 13 points on 5/22 shooting.
Memphis snuck within three, at 63-60, but three free throws from Akeem and a Rickie Winslow dunk pushed the lead back to eight points. But the Coogs missed seven of the next 8 free throws and allowed Memphis to stick around.
“We had a lead, and it would just vanish,” Coach Lewis said. UH struggled from the line all night, shooting just 22/36 (.611).
The win was Houston’s 30th of the season, the second-straight year of 30 wins. But as soon as the game ended, the team turned their focus to making it to the Kingdome for the Final Four.
“There is a different attitude with our team this year,” said Reid Gettys at the time. “I don’t think there is much evidence of us being uptight but we’re more serious. We’re not new to this anymore.”
Cougar Box Score