Vols Basketball to Face Gonzaga This December in Phoenix

(utsports.com) The Tennessee basketball series with West Coast powerhouse Gonzaga is set to resume next season, as the Volunteers will battle the Bulldogs in the inaugural Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday, Dec. 9.

The one-day, doubleheader event—which also features a matchup between Nevada and Grand Canyon—is organized by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, presented by Citi and will take place at Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

This will be the sixth all-time meeting between Tennessee and Gonzaga (all coming since 2007) and the fifth at a neutral site.

The Vols and Bulldogs have previously met in Seattle (2007 and 2015), Orlando (2008), Nashville (2016) and once in Knoxville in 2009. Gonzaga leads the series, 4-1. At least one of the teams has been ranked in the AP top 25 for four of the previous five matchups, and both squads are projected to enter the 2018-19 season featured prominently in the polls.

“We look to play a challenging, national schedule every year,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “Adding a game like this against an elite, well-coached program like Gonzaga is going to serve as a great early-season test for us. I appreciate the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for giving our program the opportunity to be a part of this inaugural event that salutes one of the most respected figures in the game in Jerry Colangelo.”

Tickets for the Jerry Colangelo Classic will go on sale to the general public on May 29 at 1 p.m. ET via all Ticketmaster locations. Fans can also purchase tickets by calling the Talking Stick Resort Arena box office at (602) 379-7800. Television broadcast information and tipoff time will be released at a later date.

“Jerry Colangelo, the remarkable Chairman of the Board for the Basketball Hall of Fame, has a storied history with the city of Phoenix,” John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said. “We are very proud to host the inaugural Jerry Colangelo Classic at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix in his honor. The four teams participating in this year’s event, and their fans, are certainly in for a treat of great basketball and Arizona winter weather.”

Shortly after Barnes was hired at Tennessee in the spring of 2015, he and Zags head coach Mark Few scheduled a two-game, neutral-site series that saw the Vols travel to Seattle (Key Arena) in December of 2015 before the Bulldogs came to Nashville (Bridgestone Arena) in 2016. Gonzaga won both contests.

Tennessee’s lone win in the series was an 82-72 victory in Seattle on Dec. 29, 2007.

Last season, Gonzaga (32-5) made its 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and advanced to its fourth straight Sweet Sixteen after capturing its sixth straight West Coast Conference championship. Returning GU forwards Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie are both projected as first-round NBA Draft picks in 2019.

In 2017, the Zags made their first-ever Final Four appearance and finished as the national runner-up.

Tennessee is coming off a 26-9 campaign that saw the Volunteers win the SEC Championship and earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. All five starters—and the top six scorers—from that team are likely to return next season.

The Vols also are set to face Georgia Tech and Wake Forest next season in addition to joining  Kansas, Louisville and Marquette for the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York City.

Categories: Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UT Vols

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