Kelvin Sampson stood quietly in the back of the room waiting for Houston’s name to be announced.
When the Cougars were announced as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, the team sitting in front of him celebrated and recorded the TV with their phones, the Houston head coach was expressionless, more curious to find out the opponent than the pomp and circumstance.
Houston, which earned its highest seed in 35 years, will face off with No. 14 Georgia State, the champions from the Sun Belt Friday in Tulsa. The winner will meet either No. 6 Iowa State or No. 11 Ohio State in the second round.
“Significance to me is we don’t play until Friday,” Sampson said Sunday after the AAC title game. “When you play three games in three days, especially the way we play, we’ve got some guys banged up.”
Houston had a historic regular season, setting a school record with 29 wins and winning The American Athletic Conference title. They lost to Cincinnati 69-57 Sunday afternoon in the AAC Tournament Championship game.
The league and national awards have already started to roll in for the Cougars.
Sampson was named the AAC Coach of the Year and is a semifinalist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year and is a finalist for the Jim Phelan Award, Ben Jobe Award and the Henry Iba Award.
Senior guard Corey Davis Jr. was named to the All-Conference First Team, Armoni Brooks earned a place on the Second Team and Nate Hinton was named to the conference All-Freshman Team.
Sophomore DeJon Jarreau was named the AAC Sixth Man of the Year, the second year in a road a Houston player won the award.