Hide the pizza and doughnuts: Rick Majerus is back coaching college basketball. He retired nearly a year ago for health reasons after 15 seasons at Utah, but he couldn't stay away...

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LOS ANGELES — Hide the pizza and doughnuts: Rick Majerus is back coaching college basketball.

He retired nearly a year ago for health reasons after 15 seasons at Utah, but he couldn’t stay away from his life’s passion. Yesterday, Majerus took over the program at USC, though he won’t be on the bench this season.

Majerus, 56, signed a multiyear contract and will take over as coach April 1. However, he’ll begin recruiting immediately, filling the assistant’s job vacated when Jim Saia was promoted to interim head coach after Henry Bibby was fired four games into the season.

“I’m so excited about the possibilities that are here,” Majerus said at a campus news conference where he interspersed basketball terms with food groups. “I love Southern California and I won’t coach anywhere ever again, I don’t think.”

Saia stood at the back of the room, but he will be running the Trojans this season.

“He’s going to let me coach the team,” Saia said. “He wants to stay out of the fray. He doesn’t want to come to games. He doesn’t want to come to practice. I’m sure he’ll watch us on TV and evaluate the freshmen and sophomores.”

Famous for a hearty appetite that led to heart-bypass surgery in 1989 and forced two other extended leaves from Utah, Majerus has battled weight problems for years.

“My health is good or I wouldn’t do this,” he said. “Both my doctors encouraged me to do it. I wouldn’t put anyone, least of all myself, in harm’s way.”

Majerus was quick to note he’s never had a heart attack.

“I’ve had seven bypasses — one for every major food group, and I told people two for the barbecue division,” he said, drawing laughter. “En route to those seven bypasses, I enjoyed every Fuzzy Navel and pizza and Kahlua and cream.”

He briefly got serious, saying, “Could I have a heart attack? Sure. I could get cancer. I could get hit on one of these freeways.”

Then he turned funny, clearly aware of Los Angeles’ emphasis on looking good and being fit.

“I’ve got to eat where Jennifer Aniston eats,” he joked. “I got to find these salad places.”

Majerus swims a mile daily and rides an exercise bike. He plans to hire a cook and buy a house rather than live in a hotel like he did during his tenure in Salt Lake City.

Top 25 men

At No. 3 Georgia Tech 72, James Madison 47

Isma’il Muhammad scored 14 points and Jarrett Jack added 13 as the Yellow Jackets (7-0) dominated the Dukes (2-4).

At No. 6 Wake Forest 85, Elon 67

Chris Paul had 14 points and a career-high 11 assists, and Kyle Visser added 13 points for the Demon Deacons (8-1). Chris Chalko had 16 points for Elon (2-7).

At No. 12 N.C. State 78, Louisiana-Lafayette 72

Andrew Brackman scored a career-high 20 points and made several key plays during a decisive second-half run to lift the Wolfpack (8-0). Tiras Wade had a career-high 37 points for the Ragin’ Cajuns (3-5).

At No. 14 Texas 85, Texas-Arlington 70

P.J. Tucker had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the Longhorns (7-1) used a big first half to improve to 50-3 against in-state opponents under coach Rick Barnes. Jarrett Howell scored 24 points to lead the Mavericks (4-3).

Top 25 women

At No. 3 Duke 99, Jacksonville State 36

Freshman Wanisha Smith scored a career-high 22 points to lead six players in double figures as the Blue Devils (9-1) routed the Gamecocks (1-4).

No. 9 Tennessee 70, at Louisiana Tech 59

Alexis Hornbuckle scored 17 points as the Volunteers gave the Techsters consecutive losses at home for the first time in 14 seasons.

Hornbuckle made seven of 12 shots and had five steals for Tennessee (6-2). Tasha Crain led Louisiana Tech (4-3) with 17 points.

No. 21 DePaul 73, at N. Illinois 59

Khara Smith scored 26 points to lead the Blue Demons (7-2) over the Huskies (1-6).

Pac-10 game

Oregon St. 49, at South Alabama 41

Mandy Close had 11 points and four assists, and the Beavers (3-5) used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to beat the Jaguars (2-5).


• Hawaii coach Riley Wallace, 63, was in the hospital recovering from a surgical procedure. Wallace said he underwent an angioplasty, with a stint inserted in his right coronary artery to improve blood flow.

• Freshman center Terrance Farley was dismissed from Louisville for a violation of team rules.