Fertitta Center

The new Fertitta Center proves to be a fortress for Houston basketball

Tilman Fertitta boasts brand new Fertitta Center Houston Cougars Men's Hoops Facebook

Tilman Fertitta reminisced about his times in the old Hofheinz Pavilion as he dribbled out a basketball to center court during the pregame ceremony in front of a sold out crowd of 7,035 at the new Fertitta Center.

“I have the memories of Hofheinz Pavilion as a kid watching basketball games here and it was a great arena back then. Now, to be here 40 years later and to be such a big part of this is special.” said Fertitta.

Judge Roy Mark Hofheinz was a man who shared a similar vision as Fertitta. “We’ll build a stadium that will make Emperor Titus’s playhouse look like an abandoned brickyard.” he exuded. Titus’s playhouse is better known as the Roman Colosseum. The staunch Houston weather made sporting events a drag for locals, but his idea was even bigger than the city itself. In 1965, the completion of the Astrodome revolutionized how we watch sports throughout the world by being the first climate controlled indoor stadium.

Hofheinz was a man that loved the city of Houston as much as Fertitta does. If he were alive to see the old Hofheinz Pavilion transform into the new Fertitta Center, it would be difficult for even him to disapprove. The University of Houston has an adequate successor, while a statue of Judge Hofheinz stands triumphantly on the new grounds.

Fertitta donated $20 million dollars to the University of Houston to rejuvenate the new home of Cougar Basketball, nearly a third of the facility’s final cost. His eagerness to help the athletics program at the university has earned him the immortalization that comes with naming the building after him, and an induction into the UH Athletics Hall of Honor alongside UH President Renu Khator.

Exactly 48 years later to the day of when Hofheinz Pavillion first opened its doors, the Fertitta Center did the same and received the promising NBA prospect 7’2 Bol Bol, and the then No. 18 Oregon Ducks.

As UH won the tip off, you could gauge how tough it will be for other schools to come in and steal a win. The intimate arena does not have a single bad seat, and its low ceilings seemingly offers a huge acoustic home team advantage. That advantage was confirmed as Jr. Guard Armoni Brooks opened up the scoreboard by hitting back to back 3-pointers. With the help of Senior Guard Corey Davis Jr. and Preseason AAC Freshman of the Year in Guard Nate Hinton, UH would go into halftime with a 37-18 lead.

There were zero lead changes in the entire game, but that doesn’t mean the Ducks didn’t come close to one. Bol Bol and company began to rally back into contention, where they even had a 10-0 run halfway through the second half. Houston began to give up rebounds, turnovers, and missed some important free throws. Coach Sampson even took off his tie, as he typically does when his team begins to lose traction in games. The score got as close as 63-61 with 11 seconds left, but Brooks closed the game out with two clutch, game sealing free throws.

Houston won its inaugural game at the Fertitta Center 65-61. They improve to 6-0 in the season and will play Lamar (Beaumont, TX) next. The Cougars extend their home win streak to 20 games, which is tied for second longest active streak. Oregon falls to 4-3, where they previously lost to another Houston school, TSU. The AP Poll came out Monday morning and dropped the Ducks, while UH remains unranked but is lingering to make a future appearance. The Coogs are also one in eleven teams who remain undefeated in all of college hoops. 

Improvements and renovations to TDECU Stadium, Guy V Lewis Development Facility, Schroeder Park, and Fertitta Center all came within the last four years. As a result, we’ve seen the baseball and football programs continually improve and land better recruits year after year. Undoubtedly, the UH basketball program will follow and more than likely surpass the success of the other programs.

"One of the ways you build brand awareness is through your athletics department. It's a proven fact that if you have winning athletics, money pours back into the university." explained Fertitta.

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Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

12. RICE

They did it, they actually did it! They beat someone, a Division I program at that, and even better an in conference rival. This is great news for the Rice Owls, and just as much for Mike Bloomgren who has to feel a massive weight come off his shoulders for getting a win this year. He needs one more to tie last year's win record and two more with two games left to show progress. Wow this program has a long way to go, remember a few years back when they were conference champs with 10 wins? I know it was a while back now but man, this program is thrilled to a get a win right now and there was a time not too long ago when they were one of the better teams in this conference. They host The Mean Green this week and they need to win out if they want to show growth from last year.

11. UTEP


UTEP lost to the UAB Blazers and now are on the road to New Mexico State University. Rice won so the pressure is officially on. Previously a loss to Rice next week meant only a tie for worst team in Texas but now a loss would actually make The Miners the 12th worst team in Texas. Someone please have some pride and play to win that game next week. And this week too, please, seriously.

10. NORTH TEXAS

If there was ever a team to have on the schedule post a bad loss then a bye week on a schedule it would be Rice University, right? You would take Rice as one of the worst teams in the country this year and you'd say yes right away if someone offered you them on a silver platter. Like if the waiter brought the wrong dish to your table but it looked better is how excited you would be to see Rice on the schedule after the last few weeks, EXCEPT, Rice just won their first game of the year and may be feeling themselves a little bit.

9. TEXAS STATE

Troy crushing Texas State is a massive blow to the season for The Bobcats. It probably isn't going to get much better as they face Appalachian State Mountaineers who are ranked No. 24 right now and are looking to keep on winning. All of the losing is why they dropped down to ninth place and there's probably going to be a little more dropping before it's all said and done.

8. UTSA

The Roadrunners need to stay focused and just keep an eye on the goal of finishing strong and not quitting on this year. Florida Atlantic comes to town and they are looking to rub salt into any wounds UTSA brings into this game.

7. TEXAS TECH

In a stunning loss to TCU, Texas Tech was yet again close to winning a big game but this time late in the fourth quarter gave up the lead. This will be the season that got away and should be both a statement of perseverance and "almost." Football is a game of inches and Al Pacino speeches and this is just another example of that. Imagine the scenario where Tech won those close games Baylor, Kansas and TCU, where would they be both nationally and here on this list? Tough to say. Kansas State comes to town and the close calls are likely to continue.

6. HOUSTON

Memphis put a hurting on Houston and it was a bad one. Memphis came to town and did what a lot of teams have done this year, punched Houston in the mouth and they failed to respond in any real way. The losses are piling up and now Houston is going on the road to visit the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. They are likely to lose this game being on the road against a team that's about as good as they are, so The Cougars are struggling.

5. TCU

A close win is better than a close loss and TCU came out of Lubbock with a close win. With three different loss differentials being a touchdown or less, TCU's whole season much like Tech's will be measured by the close losses rather than the wins. But you can't go backwards and TCU has to travel to Oklahoma and find a way to win if they want to stay bowl eligible.

4. TEXAS

Texas is now officially in trouble. They've lost all kinds of games they shouldn't have and now are going to Baylor after losing to Iowa State University. It's hard to imagine a scenario where this team pulls it together and actually beats Baylor, but they need to. They need to get it together and start playing good football or they'll go into next weekend.

3. TEXAS A&M

Coming off a great win against South Carolina, Texas A&M now tries its hat in the role of spoiler as they travel to Georgia and try and ruin the Bulldogs season. Ultimately there's a real chance they could pull off a sneaky win here and derail Georgia's shot at an SEC championship game but it isn't the best bet in the world. A&M has struggled this year in big games having lost to Clemson, Alabama and Auburn.

2. SMU

The Mustangs were in the stables this week with a bye but it gave the President of the AAC time to complain that the College Football Playoff Selection Committee has undervalued his entire conference since it was created. He's right, they have been undervalued but not by enough to whine about it and not by enough to actually make a stink. A few weeks ago I was feeling bad about having A&M as low as I did because yes they were losing but they were playing better teams and I looked up all the rankings, strengths of schedules etc. The fact is simply this, SMU doesn't play the kind of competition that A&M did and even though they were winning, they weren't beating anyone of merit. They still haven't and there's no getting around that really. However this week they go to Navy and they need to win to even stay ranked.

1. BAYLOR

They had been playing close games and coming out on top and usually that makes a team happy to get a big lead, and usually a team that's been winning and gets a big lead knows what to do with it and usually a team in a must win knows they can't mess up. All of that being said, they were up early, they were up big and they blew it. There's no getting around it, this kills any chance of back dooring the playoffs, with wins over Oklahoma and then hypothetically beating Texas this week would have made Baylor a real force with only a few weeks left on the whole thing. Instead they let Oklahoma post a record comeback and then when it's all said and done they have Texas this week. The season is slipping through their fingers like sand in an hourglass.

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