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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga, Kentucky settle on Dec. 7 date for nonconference game in Seattle

Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves (12) drives against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Nolan Hickman (11) during the first half of a college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Days after an offseason coaching change prompted Washington to cancel the final two games of a long-term contract with Gonzaga, another program on the Bulldogs’ nonconference schedule is honoring its commitment despite a leadership change of its own.

Gonzaga and Kentucky have settled on Dec. 7 for part three of a six-game series between two of college basketball’s marquee programs. The game will be a continuation of GU’s “Battle in Seattle” series and held at Climate Pledge Arena.

A tipoff time and television information will be announced at a later date.

The Zags are 2-0 in the current series, beating Kentucky 88-72 in the 2022 game at Spokane Arena and 89-85 last season at Lexington’s Rupp Arena. After this season’s game in Seattle, the teams are set to close out the series with three more games at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena (2025-26), Rupp Arena (2026-27) and McCarthey Athletic Center (2027-28).

Longtime friends and coaching colleagues Mark Few and John Calipari agreed to the long-term series prior to the 2022-23 college basketball season, revealing the first of six games during a telethon from UK’s Rupp Arena.

Calipari left Kentucky this offseason for the same position at Arkansas and the Wildcats found his replacement shortly thereafter, hiring Mark Pope, who became familiar with Gonzaga during his time coaching BYU in the West Coast Conference.

Gonzaga will face a brand new Kentucky squad this fall, with no returning players from the team that lost to the Bulldogs in February. UK’s additions include touted transfers Jaxson Robinson (BYU), Lamont Butler (San Diego State), Koby Brea (Dayton) and Kerr Kriisa (West Virginia).

The Bulldogs return six of the eight players who appeared in last season’s game at Rupp Arena, including starters Ryan Nembhard, Graham Ike, Ben Gregg and Nolan Hickman and key reserves Braden Huff and Dusty Stromer.

Few’s staff also reloaded through the transfer portal, adding Pepperdine standout Michael Ajayi, Arkansas guard Khalif Battle, Tarleton State forward Emmanuel Innocenti and Colgate guard Braeden Smith, who’s planning to redshirt next season.

Former Eastern Washington wing Steele Venters should also be a factor for Gonzaga coming off an ACL injury that forced him to miss the 2023-24 season.

The Zags are 9-5 all-time at the Battle in Seattle, but have yet to win there since completion of the redevelopment project that yielded Climate Pledge Arena, , losing 91-82 to Alabama in 2021 and 76-63 to UConn last season in the Continental Tire Seattle Tip-Off.

Tickets for the Dec. 7 game between Gonzaga and Kentucky will go on sale to the general public on June 28 at Zag Member Presales begin on June 26 and can be purchased through