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Gonzaga Basketball

Report: Gonzaga, Kentucky set Dec. 7 date for nonconference game in Seattle

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Ben Gregg (33) reacts after he made a crucial steal and drew a foul late during the second half of a college basketball game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Gonzaga won the game 89-85.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Despite a recent coaching change in Lexington, Gonzaga and Kentucky will resume their six-year nonconference series in 2024-25.

The Bulldogs and Wildcats have reportedly set a date for part three of the series and will meet on Dec. 7 at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

A tipoff time and television details for the game will be announced at a later date.

A multiyear series between two of the premier programs in college basketball was finalized prior to the 2022-23 season, featuring games at the Arena (2022-23), Lexington’s Rupp Arena (2023-24), Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena (2024-25), Nashville, Tennessee (2025-26), Rupp Arena (2026-27) and Spokane’s McCarthey Athletic Center (2027-28).

The nonconference series was facilitated by Gonzaga coach Mark Few and then-Kentucky coach John Calipari, longtime friends who’ve known each other dating back to Calipari’s stint at Memphis.

In the highest-profile coaching move of the college basketball offseason, Calipari left Kentucky after 15 seasons to take the same job at Arkansas, raising questions as to whether the Zags and Wildcats would resume their series.

That doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy, at least for this season, and the new face on Kentucky’s sideline in December will be a familiar one to Gonzaga fans.

Shortly after Calipari’s departure, Kentucky hired former BYU coach Mark Pope, a standout player for the Wildcats from 1994-96. Gonzaga played nine games against Pope’s teams during his tenure in the West Coast Conference, accumulating an 8-1 record against the Cougars.

Gonzaga will look to extend its win streak to 3-0 against Kentucky this year after beating the Wildcats 88-72 on Nov. 20, 2022, at the Arena and holding on for an 89-85 victory at Rupp Arena on Feb. 10.

Few’s team will be seeking its first win at Climate Pledge Arena after losing 91-82 to Alabama in 2021 and 76-63 to UConn in 2023.

The Bulldogs bring back six of the seven players who appeared in last season’s win at Kentucky and add three transfers in Pepperdine’s Michael Ajayi – if he withdraws his name from the NBA draft – Arkansas’ Khalif Battle and Tarleton State’s Emmanuel Innocenti, who committed to GU on Wednesday. The Zags also bring back Steele Venters, who missed last season with an ACL tear.

Kentucky isn’t expected to bring back any of the 10 players who logged minutes last year against Gonzaga, but the Wildcats have reloaded with seven players from the transfer portal, including West Virginia’s Kerr Kriisa, Dayton’s Koby Brea, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Garrison, Wake Forest’s Andrew Carr, Oklahoma’s Otega Oweh, San Diego State’s Lamont Butler Jr., and Drexel’s Amari Williams.

Gonzaga’s nonconference calendar is again loaded with high-profile opponents. Along with Kentucky, the Bulldogs have other neutral-site games against UCLA at the Intuit Dome in Los Angeles and UConn at Madison Square Garden.

Gonzaga is set to host Washington and travel to play San Diego State at Viejas Arena. The Bulldogs could also face three high-major opponents in as many days at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas.