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Duke, Gonzaga to meet on hardwood

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Duke and Gonzaga, two of the most
successful college basketball programs of the past decade, have
never played. Until now.

The Blue Devils will play the Bulldogs on Dec. 21 at Madison
Square Garden in New York City.

Where are J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison when we need them?

Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said the deal is another
sign of the Bulldogs' high national profile.

"A few years ago, it might have been 'Gonzaga gets to play
Duke,"' Roth said Thursday. "Now it's Duke versus Gonzaga. Two
national powers playing each other."

The match was brokered by Madison Square Garden officials, who
signed agreements with both teams, Roth said. He declined to
discuss how much Gonzaga will be paid for the game.

This will be the first meeting between the two schools, which
were ranked in or near the top 10 of The Associated Press Top 25
all last season.

Even though Duke is from the storied Atlantic Coast Conference
and Gonzaga hails from the lightly regarded West Coast Conference,
the teams have been linked in recent years.

Duke and Gonzaga are the only Division 1 teams to have won at
least 80 percent of their games in the past six years, and they are
the only teams to have avoided a 10-loss season in the past eight
years.

In addition, Morrison of Gonzaga and Redick of Duke engaged in a
season-long showdown for the national scoring title. Morrison won
with an average of 28.1 points per game, while Redick averaged
26.8. But Redick edged out Morrison in most player-of-the-year
selections.

Redick has used up his eligibility, while Morrison opted to skip
his senior year and declare for the NBA draft.

Gonzaga is 7-1 all-time against ACC teams.

Duke, coached by Mike Krzyzewski, finished the season 32-4 after
losing in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Gonzaga, coached
by Mark Few, finished 29-4 and also lost in the third round.

Gonzaga may try to schedule another East Coast game during the
trip, Roth said. While the schedule for next season has not been
released, Gonzaga will play Texas at a tournament in Phoenix, he
said.

Game time and ticket information for the Duke game are not yet
available, Roth said.

Eric Gelfand, vice president of public relations for Madison
Square Garden, told The Spokesman-Review newspaper that the Dec. 21
date was picked in part to give Duke and Gonzaga fans attending the
game a chance to experience the Big Apple in its holiday splendor.

"We want fans from both schools to come and enjoy our city,"
he said. "I hope Gonzaga's fans travel well, because Duke's do.
They've played here many times. It's like their home away from
home."

Roth said Gonzaga was hoping to charter an airplane for Bulldogs
fans wishing to attend the game.

"There is no more beautiful place to be at Christmas than New
York City," Roth said.

Gonzaga has played once before in Madison Square Garden, losing
to Saint Joseph's 73-66 on Nov. 14, 2003, in Morrison's first
college game.