HOUSTON (August 16) - The University of Houston men's basketball team will open the Ray McCallum era with a very tough and challenging schedule in 2000-01. The Cougars will play 16 games against teams who reached postseason tournament play last spring, including eight teams who played in the NCAA Tournament, and play two cross-town rivals in non-conference contests.
"When you look at the University of Houston's program, we want to make a statement by playing one of the most challenging schedules in the country," said McCallum, who enters his first-year as Houston's head coach after compiling a 126-76 record in six seasons at Ball State. Houston opens the 2000-01 season against Air Force in the first round of the Black Coaches Association Classic in Winston Salem, N.C. on Thursday, November 16. The Cougars could play against an additional postseason tournament team if they meet 2000 NIT champion Wake Forest in the second round. Wake Forest meets Mount St. Mary's in the other first round game.
After the BCA Classic, Houston faces 2000 NCAA Tournament teams LSU, Connecticut, Texas, Louisville, DePaul, Saint Louis and Cincinnati. The Cougars play another 2000 NCAA Tournament team Southeast Missouri State in the first round of the Sierra Providence Sun Carnival Classic in El Paso, Texas. The other teams in the tournament are UTEP and Jackson State.
Houston also is scheduled to play eight games against six teams who played in the NIT last year. The Cougars will play against SMU and Georgetown in non-conference games, while they play Charlotte, South Florida Marquette and Tulane in C-USA action.
In addition to these j2000 postseason tournament teams, Houston faces strong challenges from cross-town rivals Rice and Texas Southern. The Cougars will play at Rice on November 21 and play host to TSU on December 23.
"Our players know that they will face a difficult opponent every night and we must raise our level of play," said McCallum. " Most players want to be challenged by playing against the best teams. Playing this type of schedule will be a valuable experience for our program as we grow individually as players and as a team."
The Cougars will play two exhibition games versus the Houston Flight on November 4 and EZY Bond, an Australian club team, on November 10 before opening the regular season in the BCA Classic.
Houston will play its first regular season home game against Southwest Texas State on November 25 and plays another non-conference home game against Louisiana-Monroe on December 4 after suffering a one-point loss in Monroe last year.
The Cougars will open their Conference USA schedule against Memphis January 6 and also play UAB in Hofheinz Pavilion on January 10 before playing three road games at Louisville on January 17, at Memphis on January 20 and at Southern Miss on January 24.
Houston returns home to play South Florida on January 27 before closing out the month at UAB on January 31. The Cougars open the month of February by playing host to Charlotte on Sunday, February 4, in a game that will be televised by ESPN 2. Houston will travel to DePaul on February 7, South Florida on February 17, Tulane on February 21 and Cincinnati on February 24. The Cougars play home games that month versus Southern Miss on February 14, Saint Louis on February 19 and Marquette on February 28. Houston closes out the regular season against Tulane on March 3 before playing in the OCG Conference USA Tournament in Louisville on March 7-10.