There was extra buzz around Hofheinz Pavilion at Wednesday's game between the Houston Cougars and UTEP Miners.
Three men's basketball legends were back in the building. Otis Birdsong, Dwight Davis and Ollie Taylor signed autographs before the game and were recognized at halftime as they witnessed a 79-61 Cougar win.
Birdsong (1974-77) ranks second on Houston's career scoring list behind Elvin Hayes with 2,832 points. He was inducted into the Houston Athletics Hall of Honor in 2000 and was named the Southwest Conference Player of the Decade for the 1970s.
“I think it’s always special when former players come back and support the university,” Birdsong said. “It sends a message to our fans and our alumni base that we are still involved and that we still care about this university, so it’s always good to come back.”
Davis (1969-72) ranks seventh on Houston's career scoring list with 1,741 points and remains second in career blocks with 231. He helped lead the Cougars to three straight 20-win seasons, three NCAA Tournament appearances and a combined 67-19 record. He is a 2006 Houston Athletics Hall of Honor inductee.
“The last time I was here was the last time I was in town,” Davis said. “I come to UH every time I come to town. Houston is my home, so it’s very, very important for me to be here to support my school. I’ve also endowed a scholarship at the Bauer Business School – people don’t’ know that, so I believe as a student who got a scholarship, it’s important for me to turn around and reinvest in my school.”
Taylor (1968-70) ranks 25th on Houston's career scoring list with 1,231 points after his two years as a Cougar. He helped lead his teams to a 41-14 record and a berth in the 1970 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
“For me, it’s a great feeling because I played the first game in this building back in '68-'69, so it’s always good to come back,” Taylor said. “It’s been through a lot of changes. I haven’t been over here that much, but I enjoy it whenever I come over – to see the fans and get that old college feeling once again, it’s great.”
All three are in town to attend several events during NBA All-Star Weekend.