Undefeated Illinois Up Next For Bulldogs In Grueling Stretch

            SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's basketball team got its grueling stretch started on the right foot Wednesday with a 73-53 victory over the University of Notre Dame.

             But looming on the horizon is a showdown at undefeated (7-0) University of Illinois Saturday at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill. Tipoff is 12:15 p.m. PDT on ESPN2.

             Gonzaga is ranked 18th in this week's ESPN/USA Today Top 25 and 19th in the voting by the Associated Press sportswriters while Illinois is receiving votes in both polls.

            Saturday's game between Gonzaga and Illinois will be the third contest in the current 4-year agreement. The teams played two years ago at the United Center in Chicago, met last year in the Battle in Seattle at KeyArena and next year will conclude the 4-year series at the McCarthey Athletic Center on the Gonzaga campus.

            Illinois holds a 3-1 edge in the series dating back to 2002 when the Bulldogs dropped a 76-58 decision at Assembly Hall on the UI campus. The teams met in the 2005 season in the Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., the Fighting Illini taking an 89-72 verdict. Gonzaga got in the win column in the series at the United Center in Chicago in 2010 when Elias Harris scored on a cross-over move with :12 to play then grabbed the rebound at the other end following a Brandon Paul missed trey in the Bulldogs 85-83 overtime victory. Illinois came back to win last year's meeting in the Battle in Seattle with a 73-61 victory.

            The schedule doesn't get any easier for Gonzaga following Saturday's game as the Bulldogs return home to face Michigan State University next Saturday, tackle Oral Roberts University at home Dec. 15 and meet the University of Arizona in the Battle in Seattle Dec. 17. Then it's two more home games prior to Christmas with Butler University paying its inaugural visit to Spokane Dec. 20 and the Air Force Academy flies into town for a game Dec. 22 prior to the Bulldogs taking a short break for Christmas.



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