College basketball • Gonzaga games draw big audiences.
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Las Vegas • Gonzaga and Brigham Young first played way back in 1949, with the Zags taking a 46-41 win at the Los Angeles Invitational.
Two of the most successful men's basketball programs in the Western United States then went more than 62 years without meeting each other.
Now, they are apparently trying to make up for lost time.
The Cougars and Zags met for the second time in nine days and the fourth time in less than a year on Saturday night.
"We love playing Gonzaga," BYU junior Brock Zylstra said. "They have some great players and great tradition."
The Cougars knocked off the Zags 89-67 in last year's NCAA Tournament, and pushed their winning streak to two over GU on Feb. 2 with an 83-73 win in Provo.
However, Gonzaga got some revenge three weeks later with a 74-63 win in Spokane.
"The game with Gonzaga is really exciting for the fans," BYU coach Dave Rose said after the Cougars defeated San Diego 73-68 on Friday night. "When we were invited to the [West Coast Conference], this is what people wanted to see. We are excited to play and fight it out."
Gonzaga had its streak of 11 straight conference championships snapped by Saint Mary's this year, but its fans still supported the Zags in the tournament, with thousands of GU supporters filling the seats at Orleans Arena.
"They have great history and great tradition, and we are happy for the opportunity to play them," Rose said.
The Cougars' 73-68 win over San Diego on Friday night meant BYU senior Charles Abouo has played in 112 wins, tied with Jimmer Fredette for the most in school history. Fellow senior Noah Hartsock has played in 106 wins, which ties him for third with Jackson Emery. Jonathan Tavernari, who last played in 2010, is fifth on the list with 103 wins.
Two great coaches
Saturday night's game pitted two of the three winningest active coaches in college basketball.
Gonzaga's Mark Few ranks second on the list with a .794 winning percentage, behind only Roy Williams of North Carolina (.800). Rose is third on the list, with a winning percentage of .780.
Remarkably, Rose is ahead of Kentucky's John Calipari, Ohio State's Thad Matta and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.