HOUSTON – Every Friday is "Cougar Red Friday" on the University of Houston campus, but this one was special as students, alums and fans prepared to watch the UH men's basketball team take on the University of Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.
"It's good to see the city support the university because it's always been some of the other Texas colleges that get more spotlight than we do, so it's good to finally see it at home with our university and our Coogs," said class of 2005 alumni Mayra Rodriguez.
Coogs fans are hoping this team finally gets the respect they deserve.
"I think it's finally going to put us on the map. I feel like we should have been on the map since last year but Michigan took that away from us I guess we're gonna see if people finally recognize us after this," said UH student Charles Stroud.
University officials say that recognition is already rolling in. Just this week, they hit a history-making 35,000 new student applications for the first quarter of this year.
"We anticipate that momentum is going to continue with the basketball team being on the national stage tonight," said Mardell Maxwell, executive director of admission.
With so much comparison to the 1984 Phi Slama Jama team, Class of 2002 alum Pamela Price came up with a unique way to honor the past while giving this new team their due.
She created T-shirts with the phrase, "Nu Slama Jama" and handed them out for free Friday on campus.
"I thought this is a really awesome team and they've had a phenomenal season this year and I thought what could reflect this team. We are very much familiar with the history of UH men's basketball and Phi Slama Jama and the amazing things they did. So I thought you know what could really represent this new era -- this new dynasty of UH men's basketball -- and that's how I came up with the phrase Nu Slama Jama," Price said.
She's giving away 40 free T-shirts on her website, nuslamajama.com.