Men's Hoops Faces Intrastate Rival Washington Tuesday

Dec. 10, 2001

AP MegaSports Writer

Gonzaga may be the smallest Division I men's basketball program in the "Apple State," but it also may wind up being the best again as it continues its intrastate rivalry tour by playing Washington on Tuesday in Seattle.

The Bulldogs (7-2) returned to the Top 25 on the bottom of the poll this week, their second national ranking in school history and first since a seven-week run at the start of the 1999-00 season.

The West Coast Conference powerhouse started its rise to national prominence with a magical run to the NCAA West Region final in 1999 under current Minnesota coach Dan Monson. The Bulldogs have since added a pair of "Sweet 16" appearances under Mark Few, leaving little doubt they should be taken seriously.

That success has put Gonzaga in the crosshairs of its state rivals, especially after sweeping Eastern Washington, Washington and Washington State in two of the last three seasons. Gonzaga, a tiny Jesuit school from Spokane, started its bid for another sweep last Tuesday by rallying past Eastern Washington 84-74 in overtime, raising the stakes for this game.

"These are tough games for us," Few said Monday. "Teams want a piece of us. We realize that going in."

Gonzaga entered the poll on the strength of its 87-77 dismantling of then-No. 21 Fresno State in the Fab Four Classic at Los Angeles on Thursday. Dan Dickau scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half for the Bulldogs, who are 2-2 against ranked opponents this season. They also defeated then-No. 23 Texas in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout and have losses to No. 10 Illinois and No. 14 Marquette.

Washington (6-2), which came within a last-second shot of reaching the 1998 East Region final, is enjoying its best start since that successful season, when it won nine of its first 11 games. The Huskies went 2-1 on a just-completed road trip, capped by a 75-74 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday.

Sophomore forward Doug Wrenn, who sat out last season after transferring from Connecticut, scored 19 points and hit the game-winning jumper with six seconds to play. David Dixon added 12 and 15 rebounds for Washington, which overcame 21 turnovers by shooting 52 percent (13-for-25) from the field in the second half.

This will be just the second sellout of the 10,000-seat Bank of America Arena since the remodeled facility was opened last season.

Gonzaga has won the last three meetings between the teams, but Washington leads the all-time series 28-9.



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