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John Calipari: Gonzaga, Kentucky discussed adding late-season game

UPDATED: Fri., March 5, 2021

Kentucky coach John Calipari gestures from the sideline during a Feb. 17 game against Vanderbilt.  (Associated Press)
Kentucky coach John Calipari gestures from the sideline during a Feb. 17 game against Vanderbilt. (Associated Press)

Gonzaga and Kentucky came close to adding a late-season matchup but it couldn’t be worked out, according to Wildcats coach John Calipari.

“The game that I tried to get and we almost got done was Gonzaga,” Calipari said this week on his radio show, per a 247sports article. “Mark Few (Gonzaga coach) and I talked. I didn’t say I was going to do this publicly, but I thought it would help them and help us. And our kids were absolutely ecstatic. They wanted to do it, we just couldn’t pull it off.”

It wasn’t clear when the contest would have been played. Kentucky had an opening Feb. 23. This week would have been a tight fit for the Wildcats, who lost to Mississippi on Tuesday and entertain South Carolina on Saturday in their regular-season finale.

No. 1 Gonzaga (24-0), which defeated Loyola Marymount last Saturday, plays Monday night in Las Vegas in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals.

The Wildcats (8-15, 7-9 SEC) haven’t finished below .500 since 1989. They were ranked 10th in the AP preseason poll but got off to a 5-10 start, the program’s worst since 1927.

GU-Duke official for Nov. 26

Gonzaga and Duke officially announced their Nov. 26 meeting next season at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It was reported in early February that the national powers had agreed to a showdown on the day after Thanksgiving.

“We have nothing but the utmost respect for Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) and Duke,” Few said in a GU release. “We look forward to playing in an exciting event in a world-class facility that will get the focus to college basketball between two great teams early in the season.”

Duke won the first three series meetings. The Zags defeated Duke 89-87 in the 2018 Maui Invitational championship for their first win over a No. 1-ranked team.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for Gonzaga and the program Mark Few has built there,” Krzyzewski said. “The results speak for themselves. Certainly, this will be a showcase game during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and we are honored to be part of it.”

Tickets go on sale Friday at AXS.com and t-mobilearena.com. The game time hasn’t been announced.

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