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Gonzaga to face Auburn and either Texas Tech or Houston in revamped Orlando tourney

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 13, 2020

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few addresses his players in a timeout during a February home game.  (Jim  Meehan / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few addresses his players in a timeout during a February home game. (Jim Meehan / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s nonconference basketball schedule is taking shape.

The Zags are expected to face Auburn in the opener of a four-team tournament in Orlando, Florida, during the first week of the season. Houston and Texas Tech square off in the other matchup.

First-round games are tentatively scheduled for Nov. 27 with the second games on Nov. 29. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports first reported the tournament pairings.

Gonzaga was originally scheduled to be in the eight-team Orlando Invitational that included Auburn and Michigan State, but Siena and Xavier dropped out and Boise State was added to the Wooden Legacy field. Numerous Orlando tournaments are being reconfigured with most becoming four-team events.

The Zags, who face Tennessee on Dec. 2 in Orlando, are attempting to line up a fourth game during their Orlando trip.

Gonzaga’s nonconference home schedule will include Tarleton State on Dec. 8. The teams were originally scheduled to play Dec. 14.

Auburn (25-6, 12-6 Southeastern Conference) finished No. 27 in last year’s NET rankings. The Tigers were projected as a No. 4 seed in ESPN’s bracketology released after the NCAA Tournament was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tigers lost five key seniors from last year’s roster, and freshman star Isaac Okoro is expected to be an NBA lottery pick. Auburn could be one of the youngest teams in the nation.

Houston, coached by former Washington State coach Kelvin Sampson, is No. 14 in CBS Sports’ preseason Top 25 and 1 and returns four of its top six scorers.

Texas Tech is No. 19 in the poll, despite losing Jahmi’us Ramsey to the NBA draft. Ramsey is projected in most mock drafts as a first-round pick.

Gonzaga was scheduled to face Texas Tech on Dec. 19 in Phoenix, but that game reportedly has been pushed back to December 2021. The Zags lost 75-69 to the Red Raiders in the 2019 Elite Eight. Texas Tech lost to Virginia in overtime in the 2019 national championship game.

Gonzaga’s reworked schedule includes December games against No. 2 Baylor, No. 5 Iowa and No. 12 Tennessee.

Tarleton State, located in Stephenville, Texas, is entering its first season in the Division I Western Athletic Conference after going 18-12 last year in the Division II Lone Star Conference.

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