News of a Gonzaga-USC showdown in Las Vegas made headlines in mid-June. The particulars surrounding the December matchup of probable Top 25 teams were announced Tuesday.
The Bulldogs and Trojans will tangle at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The game will air on ESPN.
Washington, which entertains Gonzaga on Dec. 9 in Seattle, faces Colorado State at 4 p.m. in the first game of the Legends of Basketball Las Vegas Invitational doubleheader. The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is title sponsor of the one-day event.
Tickets will go on sale Oct. 13 at www.axs.com, but fans can register to receive event information and access to early tickets through a one-day presale on Oct. 12 by signing up at www.legendsofbasketball.com/Vegas. Through the link, fans can also purchase VIP hospitality tickets to pregame and postgame events through the NBRPA for the opportunity to meet former NBA and WNBA stars.
The Zags are No. 7 and the Trojans are No. 21 in ESPN’s latest preseason rankings. GU has restocked its roster after losing four of its top-five scorers – Drew Timme, Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Malachi Smith – with the addition of transfers Ryan Nembhard (Creighton), Graham Ike (Wyoming) and Steele Venters (Eastern Washington).
USC, which leaves the Pac-12 for the Big Ten for the 2024-25 season, boasts a strong backcourt with Boogie Ellis (17.7 points per game last season) and freshman Isaiah Collier, the No. 1 player in the 2023 class in 247sports’ composite rankings. The Trojans also brought in former Washington State forward DJ Rodman, who averaged 9.6 points last season.
Bronny James, son of NBA superstar LeBron James, is a five-star addition to USC’s roster and rated No. 22 overall in the 2023 class. He collapsed during a July workout and was hospitalized for two days. The James family released a statement last month that doctors determined Bronny’s cardiac arrest was caused by a treatable congenital heart defect and they believe the 6-foot-4 guard will return to the court in the near future.
Gonzaga freshman wing Dusty Stromer helped Sherman Oaks (California’s) Notre Dame High finish 4-0 against James and Sierra Canyon last season. James played in three of the four contests.
Gonzaga is 1-2 versus USC, with both losses in the early 1990s. The Zags rolled to an 85-66 victory behind Timme’s 23 points in the 2021 Elite Eight in Indianapolis.
GU could face as many as seven ranked nonconference foes, including No. 3 Purdue in the opening round of the Maui Invitational and potential second- and third-round matchups in Honolulu. The Zags also face No. 5 Connecticut, No. 12 San Diego State and No. 17 Kentucky. The Zags also have at least two West Coast Conference games against No. 23 Saint Mary’s.