Gonzaga coach Mark Few and Tennessee counterpart Rick Barnes are good friends and they aren’t afraid of good competition.
The Zags and Volunteers will square off in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden. It will mark the fourth meeting in six years between the schools since Barnes took over at Tennessee before the 2015-16 season.
Rutgers will face Baylor in the other game of the doubleheader, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
Gonzaga is 4-2 all time against Tennessee, but the Volunteers won the most recent matchup, knocking off then-No. 1 Gonzaga 76-73 in December 2018, at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. Admiral Schofield scored 30 points, including three 3-pointers in the final 3 minutes, 20 seconds. The Zags edged Tennessee 86-79 in the 2015 Battle in Seattle and won the return matchup 86-76 in Nashville the following season.
Gonzaga scrimmaged against Texas for years when Barnes was the Longhorns’ head coach.
The Zags are No. 1 and Tennessee No. 12 in CBSsports.com’s latest rankings.
Tennessee joins Texas, Arizona, Washington and Texas Tech as marquee matchups on Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule. CBSsports.com ranks Texas Tech 14th and Texas 18th.
In a two-week span, the Zags will line up against Arizona (Dec. 5), Tennessee (Dec. 8), Washington (Dec. 12) and Texas Tech (Dec. 19).
The Zags are also in the Orlando (Florida) Invitational in late November along with Auburn, Michigan State, Xavier, Boise State, Saint Louis, Belmont and Siena.
Gonzaga is scheduled to entertain North Florida on Nov. 20 and Cal State Bakersfield on Nov. 22.
The Volunteers finished 17-14 last year, 9-9 in the SEC, but they’re expected to rebound with a strong cast of returners, the fourth-ranked recruiting class and Sacred Heart grad transfer E.J. Anosike.
Incoming freshman guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson are ranked 14th and 17th, respectively, according to 247sports.
Tennessee could be the SEC favorite, especially if SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons, who has declared for the draft, opts to return. Former Zag Brandon Clarke’s soaring block of Pons was one of the top highlights of Gonzaga’s 2019 season.
Gonzaga, which has the No. 11 recruiting class, awaits decisions from draft early entrants Corey Kispert, Filip Petrusev and Joel Ayayi. The Zags are the probable preseason No. 1 if all three decide to return.
The Zags lost to eventual national champion Villanova 88-72 in December 2017 at the Jimmy V Classic. Gonzaga defeated North Carolina State 69-60 in the 2002 Jimmy V in East Rutherford, N.J.
Follow along with the Zags
Subscribe to our Gonzaga Basketball newsletter to stay up with the latest news.