Kelvin Sampson stood atop a ladder and yanked loose the remnants of the net from the rim. He turned toward the red-clad Houston fans and started pumping his right fist, the net clutched in that hand the entire time.

Years of building a once-proud program back to prominence, of putting together a formula that was about way more than flashy offense — it all led to this breakthrough moment for Sampson and the Cougars.

Yes, Houston is going back to the Final Four for the first time since the famed “Phi Slama Jama” era after Monday night’s 67-61 win against Oregon State.

 

Baylor got over the hump and advanced to its first Final Four since 1950.

Since Scott Drew took over in Waco, Texas, in 2003, he has led the Bears to the Elite Eight on three occasions, the last time coming in 2012. But in both previous appearances, Baylor ran into the eventual national champions and were sent home one step short of the Final Four.

On Monday night, the Bears were finally able to cut down nets, holding off a second-half surge from Arkansas and pulling away down the stretch for an 81-72 win.