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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Bulldogs, Spartans Looking For Another Hardwood Classic Saturday

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 12/09/2011
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            SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University will face its second straight Big Ten Conference opponent Saturday when Michigan State University makes its inaugural visit to the McCarthey Athletic Center for a 6 p.m. contest.

            The Bulldogs went into Big Ten country last weekend and lost at the University of Illinois 82-75.

            The last time Gonzaga and Michigan State met was Nov. 17, 2009, when the Bulldogs put up a valiant effort at the Breslin Center on the MSU campus before falling 75-71. Gonzaga led by as many as 13 points in the first half and led 35-30 at the break. Then-freshman Elias Harris and then-sophomore Robert Sacre each had 17 points for the Bulldogs, with Harris also contributing nine rebounds.

            While MSU will be making its first trip to the McCarthey Athletic Center, the Spartans are no stranger to Spokane. MSU played in the 2010 NCAA First and Second Rounds held at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, downing New Mexico State University 70-67 and the University of Maryland 85-83.

            The Spartans lead the all-time series with Gonzaga 3-1. The first meeting was Nov. 29, 1997, at the Coca-Cola Classic hosted by the Spartans who took a 70-68 victory. The teams wouldn't meet again until 2001 NCAA Sweet Sixteen when MSU prevailed 77-62 in Atlanta, Ga. Perhaps the best game in the series came in the 2005 Maui Invitational when Gonzaga claimed a 109-106 triple overtime semifinal victory on their way to winning the title. The last meeting came Nov. 17, 2009, when MSU claimed a 75-71 victory in East Lansing, Mich.

            Saturday's pre-game festivities will feature Jud Heathcote being honored by Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.

            Heathcote retired to Spokane following his coaching career that began at West Valley High School in Spokane. He coached at Washington State University as an assistant coach for seven years, was the head coach at the University of Montana or five seasons and concluded his career with the Spartans from 1977-95. Izzo was an assistant under Heathcote at MSU and succeeded him upon his retirement. A season ticket holder with the Bulldogs, Heathcote and Few meet and talk on a regular basis throughout the basketball season. Few and Izzo will present Heathcote with an autographed basketball as a token of their appreciation for his contributions to collegiate basketball.

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