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MAJERUS RATES BIG EDGE IN GIRTH AND LEVITY

Tonight's NCAA title game features two of the sport's finest coaches -- Kentucky's Tubby Smith and Utah's Rick Majerus. But Smith concedes he's not in his rival's class when it comes to serving up the one-liners.

"He's a much funnier guy than I am," said Smith, whose post-game comments tend toward the innocuous and mundane. "I wish I were more humorous. He's very good at that."

Asked about it later, Majerus rose to the occasion with some predictably sharp repartee.

"Coach Smith says he wishes he was as funny as you," a questioner asked. "Can you compare your personalities?"

"Coach Dean Smith?" Majerus replied, as the interview room erupted in laughter. "I don't really know Tubby. I know he makes a lot of money. If he gives me some money, I'll write a few lines for him."

Majerus extolled the virtues of living in Utah, but said he's worried about the 2002 Winter Olympics coming to Salt Lake City.

"I've been telling people it's sad we're going to have the Olympics there," Majerus said, "because it's going to get discovered and Californiacated. Really, it's going to be overrun.

"It's a nice place to live," he said. "There's not a lot of crime, not a lot of traffic, a lot of nice people. I call it the Green Bay of the Rocky Mountains. I'm not going to go to church on Sunday, but it's nice."

Majerus, who had a seven-way heart bypass shortly after taking the Utah job nine years ago, was asked if he had been adhering to his regimen of exercise and good diet.

"I think I'm healthy," he said. "I exercise. But I think all you have to do is look at me to see I'm not sticking to my diet."
As usual, the Kentucky fans will be out in force tonight at the Alamodome. They are famous for bringing the largest, most enthusiastic contingent to any city where their beloved Wildcats play in the tournament.

Sometimes, their zeal for "Big Blue" can be remarkable.

"Well, I thought it was pretty crazy when some lady named her baby after me," said forward Scott Padgett. "Really, last week some lady had a baby and named her kid Scott because I hit the three-pointer that put us ahead late in the game against Duke.

"Now that's weird."
Judging strictly by the numbers, it would be hard to pick against Utah, which has been on a very efficient run through this NCAA Tournament.

Through five games, the Utes are shooting 51.6 percent from the floor, a remarkable figure considering the caliber of opposition. All five starters are shooting at least 50 percent.

Meanwhile, Utah has limited its opponents to 38.8 percent shooting -- almost precisely their average during the regular season.
Tonight will be Kentucky's 10th appearance in the NCAA championship game. That's second all-time to UCLA, which has made the final 12 times and won an astounding 11 times.

The Wildcats are playing in their 13th Final Four. They have won six championships. North Carolina's appearance was its 14th. The Tar Heels have won three titles.

If Kentucky loses, it will become the fourth team to lose consecutive championship games. The other three were Michigan (1992-93), Houston (1983-84) and Ohio State (1961-62).
Michael Doleac, Andre Miller and forward Drew Hansen were on the Utah team that defeated Canisius, 72-43, in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament in Dallas.

Miller had 10 points to go with game-highs of seven rebounds and four assists. Doleac added eight points and seven rebounds and Hansen had five points.

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