West’s best? Gonzaga has had upper hand lately in Arizona series but is winless in Tucson
Dec. 11, 2019 Updated Wed., Dec. 11, 2019 at 6:46 p.m.
Gonzaga and Arizona have battled for Western basketball supremacy all over the West.
They’ve met nine times in eight locales: Tucson, Arizona, (twice), Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Seattle, San Diego, Spokane, Los Angeles and Maui, Hawaii.
The Bulldogs have won the last two matchups after the Wildcats claimed six of the first seven. For the sixth-ranked Zags to build on their recent success, they’ll have to find a way to win inside the McKale Center on Saturday after dropping thrillers on two previous visits.
Gonzaga turned the series in its favor with solid wins at the 2018 Maui Invitational and at the Staples Center in Los Angeles early in the 2016-17 season. One common denominator in those two wins: Gonzaga’s inside play.
Rui Hachimura had 24 points and Brandon Clarke 18 as the Zags racked up 42-26 edge in paint points in last year’s 91-74 win in the Maui Invitational semifinals. Przemek Karnowski scored 18 points and four Gonzaga bigs swatted seven shots in a 69-62 victory in L.A.
Gonzaga and Arizona are scheduled for one more meeting next season at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Head coaches Mark Few and Sean Miller have spoken highly of the series, so an extension could be a possibility.
Here’s a look back at some of the series highlights, including Arizona’s memorable double-overtime win in the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City.
2018 Maui Invitational
Gonzaga 91, Arizona 74
No. 3 Gonzaga trailed by 13 early in the second half before outscoring Arizona 54-24 in the final 17:20.
Hachimura made 10 of 16 shots. Clarke was 8 of 9 from the field and blocked four shots. Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins combined for seven 3-pointers. Norvell finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Arizona guard Justin Coleman hit six 3s and scored 28 points.
Dec. 3, 2016
GU 69, UA 62
The eighth-ranked Zags led by as many as 16 in the second half. Some errant free-throw shooting turned it into a five-point game late, but Nigel Williams-Goss connected on a key floater with 70 seconds left.
The Wildcats didn’t double-team Karnowski, and the 7-foot-1 center made them pay, hitting 9 of 13 shots. Williams-Goss had a tough shooting night but contributed 10 points and six boards. Josh Perkins hit three 3s and scored 16 points. Zach Collins added eight points and eight rebounds.
Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen, who was selected seventh overall in the 2017 NBA draft, had 14 points but made just 4 of 14 shots.
Dec. 6, 2014
UA 66, GU 63 (OT)
The ninth-ranked Zags led for nearly three-fourths of the game but hit a dry offensive spell in the final 4 minutes inside the McKale Center.
Kyle Wiltjer led GU with 15 points, and current graduate assistant Gary Bell Jr. added 12. Karnowski had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Forward Brandon Ashley scored 14 points, and current Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell had 12 for the third-ranked Wildcats.
Dec. 17, 2011
GU 71, UA 60
The Zags controlled the Battle in Seattle from the tip, scoring the first 14 points and constructing a 39-21 halftime lead.
Elias Harris scored 17 of his 25 points in the opening half. Kevin Pangos had eight assists, and Sam Dower Jr. chipped in 10 points. Arizona’s Kyle Fogg had 14 points and Nick Johnson 13.
Dec. 14, 2008
UA 69, GU 64
Austin Daye had 22 points and Matt Bouldin 14, but the Wildcats closed with a 7-2 run to earn the win in Phoenix. Gonzaga was stung by 14 turnovers.
Jordan Hill paced Arizona with 22 points. Nic Wise scored 21 points, and Chase Budinger had 14.
2003 NCAA Tournament
UA 96, GU 95 (2OT)
Top-seeded and second-ranked Arizona outlasted the Bulldogs in one of the most memorable games in NCAA Tournament history.
Gonzaga’s Blake Stepp and Tony Skinner each scored 25 points. Ronny Turiaf had 16 points before fouling out, and Richard Fox added 13 points.
Skinner’s putback forced overtime, and Luke Walton’s field goal for Arizona sent it to a second extra session.
Arizona’s Channing Frye and Jason Gardner had 22 points apiece.
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