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Novak connects on eight threes

1/31/2004
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he felt
fine on Saturday -- until Marquette's Steve Novak started hitting
3-pointers.

Novak made eight 3-pointers and scored a career-high 30 points
as Marquette beat No. 4 Louisville 77-70 in Pitino's first game
back from a two-day medical leave.

"Except for Novak's shooting, I feel fine. I don't feel good
about our basketball team. That would make anybody sick," Pitino
said.

Travis Diener added 17 points and seven assists as the Golden
Eagles (13-5, 4-3 Conference USA) snapped No. 4 Louisville's
16-game winning streak. Novak, who went 9-for-16 from the field and
4-for-4 from the free throw line, also had eight rebounds

"I can't remember but a couple of games in high school like
this. None in a place like this," said Novak, a sophomore from
Brown Deer, Wis.

Marquette also ended Louisville's 16-game winning streak at
Freedom Hall, which dated to the Golden Eagles' 78-73 victory here
last Feb. 27. Marquette trailed by 19 in that game and coach Tom
Crean showed his players tape of the comeback on Friday.

"It was very important that we remembered we could win here,"
said Crean, who has won five of six games against Louisville since
Pitino became the Cardinals' coach in 2001.

Pitino was as animated as ever on the sideline, three days after
returning from a medical leave. He went to the Cleveland Clinic on
Tuesday to probe the cause of a pain that's persisted in his left
side for months, causing him to miss the Cardinals' 64-48 win over
Houston on Wednesday. He said tests revealed no serious problems.

Two of his best players, meanwhile, looked far from 100 percent.

Leading scorer Francisco Garcia finished with 20 points, but
also had eight turnovers. He sprained his ankle in Louisville's win
at Tennessee last Sunday and was questionable for this game.

Taquan Dean, Louisville's top 3-point shooter who Pitino didn't
expect to play, had four points on 1-for-5 shooting as he continued
to recover from a pulled groin.

"We had to try to get the best out of both kids, but their
sharpness is off," Pitino said.

Luke Whitehead had 14 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for
Louisville (16-2, 6-1), which shot a season-low 33 percent
(21-for-64) and went 5-for-34 from 3-point range (15 percent). The
Cardinals mustered a season-low eight assists and shot worse than
40 percent for the third straight game.

"Marquette taught us a difficult lesson," Pitino said. "I
haven't been pleased in about a week and half with our practices.
We haven't passed the ball well."

The Golden Eagles scored on four of their first five possessions
after halftime to build a 40-31 lead and prompt a timeout by
Pitino.

The Cardinals responded with a 10-0 run, capped by Brandon
Jenkins' 3-pointer from the wing with 15:35 left.

Novak hit a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer to restore
Marquette's lead.

"If you give this young man, who's maybe the best shooter in
college basketball even a look, you're playing poor defense,"
Pitino said.

The Cardinals made one more surge, mounting a 9-0 run to take a
56-55 lead with 6:34 left. Novak sank another 3-pointer 20 seconds
later and Scott Merritt hit a bank shot with 5:12 remaining as
Marquette retook control.

Novak just beat the shot clock with his eighth 3-pointer, giving
the Eagles a 66-57 lead with 3:47 left. The Cardinals got no closer
than four the rest of the way.

The Golden Eagles missed eight of their first 10 shots, but
trailed only 8-6 five minutes into the game. Novak sank a 3-pointer
with 13:46 to give Marquette its first lead and trigger an 8-0 run.

The Cardinals went four minutes without a point before Alhaji
Mohammed's baseline jumper with 12:10 left in the half.

Louisville then held Marquette scoreless for five minutes during
a 10-0 spurt.

Novak sank two 3-pointers during a 10-2 Golden Eagles' run over
the next four minutes. Pitino screamed at his team during the next
media timeout, throwing a clipboard onto the floor.

The Cardinals trailed only 30-27 at halftime despite going
1-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half.

Novak scored 16 points in the first half, but the rest of the
Eagles went only 6-of-22 from the field.

"His great game was because his teammates did a great job of
finding him," Crean said of Novak.