by Adam BurnsDaily Cougar Staff
A game-time decision -- Robert Horry had a sore ankle and wouldn't play in Thursday night's Rockets game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Enter Sam Mack.
Given the starting role, early in the game, he drives and shoots, it's good and he draws the foul.
It was just another game as far as former Cougars Charles `Bo' Outlaw and Sam Mack were concerned, even though it was the first time the two faced each other in the NBA.
"(Mack) is going to try to do his job; I'm going to do mine," Outlaw said before the game. (But) it's going to be good to see him."
Mack said, "It'll be tripped out to go, `Hey! that's Bo out there,' But I got a job to do."
Down 84-76 late in the third, Mack squares up behind the arc and nails a three-pointer.
The pair made up two-thirds of the strong Cougar front-line in the 1991-92 season, the last time University of Houston made it to the NCAAs.
Mack was the leading scorer for the Cougars that season, and Outlaw's tenacious defense won him the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1992 and 1993. Both were placed on the All SWC Second Team, along with teammates Craig Upchurch and Derrick Daniels.
After Mack left the Cougars, having came in as a senior and only playing one year, Outlaw had an even better senior season, earning SWC Player of The Year for 1993.
But despite strong college careers by the pair, neither was noticed come draft day, and both had to do time in the Continental Basketball Association.
Mack did a short stint with the San Antonio Spurs, but mostly sat on the edge of the bench, and after not being kept on, he went on to play with five different CBA teams.
Then the Rockets started having more injuries than the Croatian army.
Mack was signed to the first of two 10-day contracts on Feb. 12, and then was signed for the rest of the season March 3.
"We were in an emergency situation, and we started scouring the CBA," said Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. "(Mack's) been a very pleasant addition to our team."
With several of their stars out, Mack earned a lot of playing time, averaging 10.4 points and 3.1 rebounds.
He exploded for 38 points against the Golden State Warriors on April 2.
Hakeem Olajuwon summed up Mack's play: "Great contribution," he said.
After not being part of the 1993 draft, Outlaw spent 32 games with the Grand Rapids Hoops before being picked up by the Clippers in February of 1994.
With the game tied at 99, Outlaw throws down a moster two-fisted jam to put teh Clippers up by two.
Mack out-played his former teammate in the Rockets' 115-107 victory, having eight points and four assists compared with four points and four rebounds for Outlaw.
The Rockets have their No. 5 playoff seed secured, but each win gives the Rockets momentum going into post-season, of which Mack expects to be a part.
"Every win you get is a help," Mack said, "It helps to solidify you going into the playoffs."