Tennessee Basketball To Face Gonzaga In Preseason Scrimmage


Photo via Tennessee Athletics Communication

Tennessee basketball will face Gonzaga in a preseason scrimmage on Oct. 28, KnoxNews Mike Wilson reported Friday morning. The Vols and Zags will face off in Frisco, Texas as the two teams prepare for the 2022-23 season.

The NCAA permits teams to play two games in the preseason each season. The contests can either be exhibitions games — like the matchup with Gonzaga — or closed door scrimmages. Tennessee is playing a closed door scrimmage against Michigan State ahead of the Gonzaga exhibition.

While stats and scores won’t be shared from the Michigan State game, the Gonzaga scrimmage in Frisco will be open to the public with stats and scores expected to be shared afterwards.

Tennessee had a long history of playing Davidson in its closed door scrimmage ever since Rick Barnes took over as head coach. Longtime Wildcats’ head coach Bob McKill0p retired following the 2021-22 season and Tennessee went in a different direction to face off against the Spartans.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Barnes are longtime successful college basketball coaches and while they’ve never been in the same conference they have a prior relationship. After Barnes contracted COVID-19 ahead of the 2020-21 season, Izzo was one of the first coaches to reach out, according to Barnes at the time.

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The Vols have traditionally played a division II opponent at Thompson-Boling Arena in their exhibition game— though they faced Clemson in Greenville one season.

Barnes and Gonzaga coach Mark Few have long had a relationship with the two playing closed door scrimmages for a long period of time while Barnes was at Texas. The Vols and Zags have faced off three times since Barnes arrived in Knoxville. Tennessee knocked off No. 1 Gonzaga — its lone win in the three matchups — in December 2018 on its way to climbing to No. 1 in the polls by early January.

Tennessee and Gonzaga were set to play in December 2020 before COVID-19 issues cancelled the meeting.

Under Few, Gonzaga has consistently been one of the best programs in the country. The Zags expectations are the same this season. Gonzaga is a preseason top three team by nearly every outlet.

The Vols began preseason practice this Tuesday and open the regular season on Nov. 7 against Tennessee Tech.