...I've already heard a few people making arrangements to watch the UT-UCLA game on TV, since they dont have the Stampede pass and would have to wait in line for most of the day. I've also heard people planning on meeting at the Erwin Center around 6:00 or 6:30. If you are a Senior and you dont have an Exam on Friday, both of these are the wrong answer, even for average basketball fans...
More after the jump...
Each of the past few years, there has been at least one key game to target on the home schedule. In every single case, the game--and the crowd--has delivered. In all the football games I've attended at UT, nothing outside of the OSU Rally in 2004 has compared to the insanity in the Erwin Center during some of the marquee match-ups.
Literally, in each year, I can look back to a single game and remember the crowd going absolutely berserk and the team willing itself to victory. While I'm well aware crowd effects can be overstated (especially at Texas), I refuse to believe that the crowd hasn't played *some* role in leading Texas to a 95-6 record in their last 101 home games. This is especially true against marquee opponents. Let's take a look.
2007: 72-69 victory over #4 Kansas. This was the game where 16,755 fans watched Damion James snag 13 rebounds in the 2nd half to lead Texas over the eventual National Champions. This was also the game where Damion threw down the MONSTER slam off the offensive rebound, which almost caused me a broken ankle in my theatrical celebration. I dont think anyone who attended the game will forget it anytime soon.
2006: 98-96 victory over #6 Texas A&M. In Kevin Durant's swan song at the Erwin Center, he outdueled Acie Law (the 4th) to lead the Longhorns to victory in a 2OT thriller. One of my best friends has said his favorite regular season game--in any sport--that he's ever attended. The sheer bedlam in the bleachers after Durant nailed the go-ahead three is literally seared into my memory. It was LOUD the entire game, and none of the students wanted to leave after the game was over.
2005: 58-55 victory over #3 Villanova. In what marked a key turnaround game after Texas had been throttled by Duke and Tennessee, Texas won a thriller over Villanova and their four-guard offense. I was worried that the crowd might disappoint for this game, but--even with the early tip--that simply didnt happen. In one of the most underrated games in the last few years, Texas hung tough and gutted out a key win.
2004: 75-61 victory over #5 Oklahoma State. Right before losing PJ Tucker due to an academic suspension, the Longhorns played with fire in knocking off the Cowboys in a Big Monday showdown. This was also the game where Daniel Gibson exploded for 27 points and 10 rebounds. It was also a game where I lost my voice before the game was over.
2003: 82-67 victory over #14 Kansas and 94-81 victory over #14 Wake Forest. As I was unable to attend the Wake Forest game, I can't speak with certainty over if the environment was electric. In the Kansas game, Texas jumped out to a big lead in the first half and the Jayhawks never had a chance.
In each of the past five seasons, I've watched Texas win special games against marquee opponents. In the last four seasons, the Erwin Center has come alive and literally made a difference in the game. This season, the marquee matchups are UCLA and OU, with the UCLA visit being a historical and rare occurrence. The team is going to need--and will appreciate--our help. Don't miss out.
If you're a senior planning to "Wait for the OU game to campout", please remember that the game occurs over Winter Break. Please also remember that you'll be a total moron if you miss the UCLA game.