FourFourEightyThree: 30 Years Later, The Cougs Are Still Crying


Thirty years later, the images are still etched into my mind and those of most Pack fans old enough to remember.

The team in red, the huge underdogs, hugging each other with tears streaming.  Fists and/or index fingers raised to the sky to indicate that the Pack truly was number one in the land once again.

And of course Jim Valvano running around looking for Dereck Whittenburg.  Whitt dissed him on that early spring night in Albuquerque so V jumped on the first pile he could find to get in on the love.

But what about the team in white?

The heavily favored Houston Cougars cried that night too.  Boy did they.

Those images are etched into my mind too.  They had just as many tears as our Wolfpack to go along with the expressions ranging from full blown anguish to detached disbelief.  Even in my unbridled joy of the moment, the pain felt by the Houston players and fans was truly moving.

And thirty years later they’re still crying.  But really, who can blame ’em?

Looking back at UH’s upset loss to N.C. State 30 years later (

The most famous airball in college basketball history.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since the University of Houston’s stunning last-second 54-52 loss to sixth-seeded North Carolina State in the national championship game.

In the final seconds, Dereck Whittenburg took a heave from more than 30 feet. The shot came up short, but Lorenzo Charles was there to slam the ball home with two seconds left to shatter the dreams of Phi Slama Jama.


It’s interesting to me to hear about “The Game” from their perspective.  I won’t quote any of the comments section, but be sure to scroll down and read them.  And frankly, if I was on their end of it I’d probably be way more bitter about it than they are, even 30 years later.

But I will respond to one of those comments without quoting it….

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the better TEAM most definitely did win that night.


About Wufpacker

A 2nd generation alumnus and raised since birth to be irrationally dedicated to all things NC State. Class of '88 and '92.

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25 Responses to FourFourEightyThree: 30 Years Later, The Cougs Are Still Crying

  1. Wolfpackjack76 04/05/2013 at 11:30 AM #

    Yup! The best TEAM. At least one of their comments noted we also beat Jordan, Perkins, and Worthy that year. He evidently forgot Sampson and others.
    And IIRC, there were only 2 dunks in the entire game…our first basket and our last basket. Smoke on that, phi slama jama!

  2. Alpha Wolf 04/05/2013 at 11:34 AM #

    Their tears are like nectar to me.

  3. packof81 04/05/2013 at 11:34 AM #

    We were the better team, no doubt about it. If Houston was so good, why did it all come down to the last shot?

    All we heard before the game was Phi Slama Jama and how they were going to stomp us. The ones saying that ended up with egg on their faces.

    I went to NCSU between the 2 championships and I tell ya, those were heady days.

  4. packalum44 04/05/2013 at 12:06 PM #

    There would have been 3 had it not been for Terry Gannon.

    How many charges did our players take this year? Say what you will about K, but his players do the small things.

    Also, Hakeem DIDN’T BOX OUT!!! He was a giant compared to Lorenzo. All he had to do was box out.

  5. TLeo 04/05/2013 at 12:17 PM #

    After all the arrogance and hype both coming from UH and the media before that game I have absolutely no sympathy for them. The better team did indeed win that night and my best memory from that night was watching some of their players rolling around on the court crying and pounding the court in their little tantrums.

  6. coach13 04/05/2013 at 12:44 PM #

    I’d love to know what kind of hit Vegas took that game…

  7. WolftownVA81 04/05/2013 at 12:55 PM #

    Just got a round to watching the ESPN 3030 special. It was great to relive those tournament runs.

  8. golf76 04/05/2013 at 12:56 PM #

    Having moved to Houston in 1987 and lived there for 15 years I can attest that the 1983 game forever haunts the UofH players, alumni, and fans as a lost opportunity. The fact is, they had never been in a close game so Hakeem was flat-footed, frozen in place, thinking about winning in OT, Guy Lewis didn’t know how to coach a close game, . . . Drexler was the only one who tried to take control. Yet the primary ingredients of that Houston team went on to win two NBA Championships in the pros. Our game was a moment in time that may never happen again, ever. Right place, right time, right players, right coach, single elimination, . . . everything in place. For NCSU, our moment. Go Pack!

  9. Texpack 04/05/2013 at 1:09 PM #

    Word leaked out here (Houston) that Guy Lewis’ election to the basketball HOF will be announced on Monday. The irony of the news coming on the 30th anniversary of State / UH game was not lost on the local sports talk hosts yesterday afternoon so I got to hear a lot of conversation about the game from Cougar High fans on the way home. I have lived here since ’84 and it really is the best place to live when the ’83 team is discussed. That was the championship that the city of Houston lost that they feel was the biggest failure. Their pain in remembrance always makes me smile.

  10. partialqualifier 04/05/2013 at 1:22 PM #

    Houston was a really good team, but they were as outcoached as any team I have seen in my lifetime. Lewis panicked when “The Dream” got gassed in the second half and took the air out of the ball. He got nervous, and as it always does, it trickled down to the players. When you are a run and gun team and your coach tells you to hold the ball, it messes with your mind. It showed on their faces and it showed when pretty good free throw shooters started missing front-ends. Of course, on game day, V outcoached a lot of guys.

  11. Alpha Wolf 04/05/2013 at 1:37 PM #

    Houston fans always seem to forget that State beat them the next season for good measure, too.

  12. wolfpack_83 04/05/2013 at 2:09 PM #

    Let me share a personal story about the game.

    My suite-mates and I somehow managed to pull together enough cash to get out to the Final Four in Albuquerque. After watching our Pack comfortably handle Georgia in the 1st semifinal, we witnessed one of the most exciting and fast-paced contests ever seen in college basketball, with Houston taking care of a very good Louisville team. “Dunk City” doesn’t begin to describe that game – We all looked at each other and agreed that being #2 in the nation wasn’t that bad after all!

    The day of the final, we got to “The Pit” early to take in the atmosphere. While there, we shared a little good-natured ribbing with Brent Musberger, who informed us that our team didn’t have a prayer of beating the mighty Cougars. Needless to say, a few hours later we enjoyed watching Mr. Musberger eat some crow, although he never admitted making that prediction!!

    Wonderful memories…

  13. BJD95 04/05/2013 at 2:18 PM #

    The Cougars proclaimed that whoever had the most dunks would win. They were right (2-1).

    That’s why Billy Packer famously announced it as “They won it! On the dunk!”

  14. 44rules 04/05/2013 at 2:49 PM #

    Good read. Here’s another take from a UVA grad:

  15. MrPlywood 04/05/2013 at 4:01 PM #

    Ah, Houstonfan still complaining that “the two best teams (Houston and Louisville) played in the semis” and that left Houston too tired to finish State off. I might remind them that in 1974 State beat UCLA in the semis, then took care of business against Marquette.

  16. wufpup76 04/05/2013 at 4:09 PM #

    ^^Really good article linked by 44rules from a UVa perspective …

  17. golf76 04/05/2013 at 4:39 PM #

    There’s an old saying that “when you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!” Same can be said of the beach, or – you pick a place. As a variation of that old saying, “If you’ve been lucky enough to live through Wolfpack b-ball in 1973-74 and 1983, you can die happy!”

  18. Pack78 04/05/2013 at 5:01 PM #

    I had a locking briefcase that I used for business in the 80’s…the combination was 4-4-8-3…

  19. Wufpacker 04/05/2013 at 6:42 PM #

    ^ Mine had three numbers on each side…

    0-5-4 and 0-5-2

  20. Tired in Florida 04/05/2013 at 8:44 PM #

    I used to travel through Houston (IAH) quite a bit and every chance I got I stopped in front of Clyde Drexler’s shop and saluted it by saying “April 4, 1983 –> NCSU 54 – UH 52″…..I received some very strange looks at times but a lot of laughs as well…

  21. 13OT 04/05/2013 at 9:12 PM #

    A lot of people did forget that the following season, in the season-opener in Springfield, Mass (I think), State pasted Houston, 76-64, despite the departure of their 3 seniors. Houston still had Hakeem, but State still had Valvano.

    The Wolfpack has been perhaps Houston’s biggest nemesis in big games. Don’t forget the 16-6 Wolfpack win over UH in the Astrodome in October, 1967. At that time, it was the largest crowd to ever see a football game indoors. That one smarted too!

  22. BJD95 04/05/2013 at 10:22 PM #

    And that ’84 State team was only NIT-caliber. LMFAO

  23. saigonwolf 04/05/2013 at 10:49 PM #

    ^Yeah, I vividly remember losing to one Dell Curry and his Va. Tech Hokies in the NIT that year. I was so spoiled by that ’83 championship, I just knew we could come back the next year and at least win a NIT championship as well – especially after we beat Houston in the first game of the season.

  24. Texpack 04/06/2013 at 6:06 AM #

    We lost to FSU in the NIT coached by Joe Williams.

  25. TLeo 04/06/2013 at 7:48 AM #

    I had forgotten that we beat Houston again to start the next season. I bet that really got under their skins to lose twice.

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