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No. 8 Utah Rolls Over BYU

Rick Majerus doesn't like his team being in this gambling city or playing in a conference tournament.

It's a wonder, then, that Andre Miller and the rest of Utah's players looked so comfortable on Thursday against Brigham Young.

Miller scored 19 points and controlled the floor as No. 8 Utah won its 20th straight game, beating BYU 81-62 to advance to the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

That didn't stop Majerus from grumbling about both the host city and the fact his team has to play in the tournament.

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  • "I like Las Vegas and being around the people but I don't want my kids around it," Majerus said. "And I just don't like conference tournaments."

    Utah spurted to an 11-0 lead and didn't look back, opening the postseason much the same way it finished the regular season -- by defeating another WAC team and extending the school's longest winning streak.

    Still, Majerus wasn't all that pleased about having his players spend so much time around casinos and away from their books.

    "The NCAA sent us a gambling tape but where should I show that to them tonight -- at the blackjack table or the craps table?" Majerus said. "This is not an environment student-athletes should be in."

    The Utes, who went undefeated in 14 regular-season conference games, led 41-26 at halftime and weren't seriously threatened the rest of the way.

    Miller, the senior guard and team leader, helped Utah control the flow of the game against a team the Utes had beaten easily twice earlier during their current win streak.

    Utah (25-4) didn't figure to have much of a test against BYU (12-16), which beat Texas Christian on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinal game. Utah beat BYU in the regulaseason by 21 and 25 points.

    The Utes didn't, getting balanced scoring with five players in double figures.

    "We got a chance to get out and run and get some easy baskets," Miller said.

    Utah will play Friday against Tulsa, which beat Fresno State 85-56 in an earlier game.

    BYU made a mild run at Utah early in the second half, pulling within 43-34 on a basket by Silester Rivers. But Hanno Mottola scored a basket inside and Utah scored seven more points on four free throws and a 3-pointer by Tony Harvey with 15:30 left to go ahead 52-34.

    Utah led by as many as 29 points down the stretch before BYU closed the gap a bit after most of Utah's starters were taken out.

    Some of the bad thoughts for Majerus about Las Vegas may have stemmed from last year's conference tournament, in which the then-No. 3 Utes were eliminated in their first game by UNLV.

    Majerus made sure the players remembered that early exit.

    "Last year is still vivid in our memories," Mottola said. "Coach told us to pack for one day so I think we came in better prepared this time."

    Mottola had 14 points for Utah and freshman Phil Cullen added 12 points and seven rebounds.

    Rivers led BYU with 23 points and Mark Bigelow had 14 before fouling out.

    Utah used its big front line to dominate on the boards, outrebounding BYU 34-22. The Utes also shot 53 percent for the game to 43 percent for BYU.

    Utah, which last lost Dec. 12 at Texas, has the nation's third-longest winning streak, behind No. 1 Duke and the College of Charleston.

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