Gonzaga has added another quality matchup to its challenging 2018-19 schedule.
The Zags will face Tennessee on Dec. 9 in the headliner of the Jerry Colangelo Classic doubleheader at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The other game pits Nevada against Grand Canyon. The matchups were first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS.
The Zags and Volunteers have some history, including a strong friendship between head coaches Mark Few and Rick Barnes. Gonzaga beat the Vols 86-79 in the Battle in Seattle on Dec. 19, 2015. The Zags won 86-76 in the rematch on Dec. 18, 2016, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Point guard Josh Perkins was GU’s second-leading scorer with 15 points.
Gonzaga, 32-5 last season, is expected to be in the preseason top 10, possibly the top five, with key returners Perkins, Killian Tillie, Rui Hachimura, Zach Norvell Jr. and Corey Kispert, and San Jose State transfer Brandon Clarke.
Tennessee was one of the surprise stories of the 2018 season with a 26-9 record. The Vols, picked 13th in the 14-team SEC preseason poll, shared first place with Auburn with a 13-5 mark. Kentucky beat the second-seeded Vols for the SEC Tournament championship.
Tennessee, seeded third, lost to Loyola Chicago in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Volunteers are No. 4 and the Zags No. 6 in CBSsports.com’s way-too-early Top 25 rankings. Tennessee is projected to return its top six scorers, including SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams.
Tennessee bolsters Gonzaga’s schedule that includes the Maui Invitational, road dates against North Carolina and Creighton, and a home date against rival Washington.
Maui matchups haven’t been announced, but the field features Duke, Arizona, Iowa State, Illinois, Xavier, Auburn and San Diego State.
Gonzaga is expected to add at least one more marquee matchup.
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