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No. 5 Utah Cooks Rice 60-49

Rick Majerus had good reason to take a bow but he declined.

After his No. 5 Utes beat Rice on Saturday, he said he didn't have a clue he had won his 200th game at Utah. And once he learned of the milestone, it still meant little to him.

"Of all the numbers going on today, that is the one that I care less about," Majerus said. "It didn't even know it until you told me. I guess it means my plumbing's working. I guess it's staying power."

His Utes shut down Rice in the second half for a 60-49 win, which also gave Majerus his 299th career coaching victory and his seventh 20-win season in nine years at Utah.

Mike Doleac scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half for Utah (20-1, 7-1 Western Athletic), which improved to 5-0 against the Owls. Hanno Mottola and Drew Hansen each added 16 points.

Rice (5-16, 2-6 Western Athletic Conference) put up a good defensive fight for a 29-29 tie at halftime but the Utes pushed the ball inside to Doleac to start the second half and began pulling away.

"The second half we played with passion," Majerus said. ``We had two or three guys who didn't have that passion."

Utah outscored the Owls 10-2 in the opening minutes of the second half to take control of the game for the first time. Rice got within four points at 45-41 with 9:30 to play.

Then the Utes turned up their defense and outscored the Owls 15-8 over the final 9:23 of the game.

"The defense certainly was good enough to win but the offense got away from us in the second half," said Rice coach Willis Wilson. "Again, we have got to find a way to shoot the basketball."

Hansen kept the Utes in the game in the first half with his long-range shooting. He hit 4 of seven chances from 3-point range before halftime. He finished 5-of-8 on 3s.

Doleac gave credit to Hansen for the win.

"Drew played hard and came out and got us going," Doleac said. "He basically won the game for us. He got everybody going with his shooting and defense."

Jarvis Kelly Sanni had 12 points to lead the Owls, who lost their seventh straight.

The Owls never trailed by more than three points in the first half and they took their first lead of the game at 23-22 with 5:10 to play on a basket by Mike Wilks.

Rice led 25-22 with 4:43 left in the half and they were up by 29-28 with 1:48 to go but a free throw by Hansen with 1:29 to go tied it at the half.

Rice's first half surprised the Utes.

"I was kind of surprised but when we play badly, anyone can stay with us," Doleac said. "We're not so talented that we can win when we play badly."

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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