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Golden Eagles remain undefeated at home

12/23/2003

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Steve Novak loved watching Florida A&M's
defense focus on stopping Marquette's big men.

That allowed the 3-point specialist to get open shots, and he
scored 19 points to lead Marquette to an easy 83-63 victory over
Florida A&M Monday night.

"When they're falling, you feel a lot better," said Novak, who
made 5-of-9 3-pointers. "They were sagging on defense so I was
able to get some open looks."

It was the most points scored this season for Marquette (8-2),
which Monday fell out of The Associated Press rankings for the
first time since January 2002 but is ranked No. 24 by ESPN/USA Today.

Florida A&M typically starts four guards, but coach Mike
Gillespie inserted reserves Michael Ayodele and Richard Russell,
6-foot-7 and 6-foot-6 respectively, into the starting lineup to get
more height. Russell had three rebounds in 25 minutes while Ayodele
had no rebounds in 24 minutes.

Marquette's starting frontline of Scott Merritt (6-foot-10),
Novak (6-foot-10) and Terry Sanders (6-foot-8) dominated the
boards, 36-27. In addition, the inside play allowed the Golden
Eagles to get fouled often and make 25-34 free throws to the
Rattlers 5-6.

"It's nice to be on the 34 end," Marquette coach Tom Crean
said. "We went up strong to the rim and got it in the post. We had
a good mix, which is what this team has to have. Anytime you can
shoot that many free throws, that's a positive step."

The Golden Eagles had little trouble with the Rattlers (1-8),
opening a 30-10 lead on Diener's jumper with 8:50 left in the first
half.

Demarcus Wilkins then hit two 3-pointers for the Rattlers, but
Marquette ran off 13 consecutive points for a 43-16 lead on
Merritt's two free throws with 2:25 left.

Florida A&M, whose only win is over Wofford College, never got
closer than 18 points the rest of the way.

"We were up by 23 at the half," Diener said. "That's a good
sign for us."

Merritt had nine points and Dameon Mason 8 for Marquette, which
was ranked No. 23 last week.

Florida A&M's Terrence Woods, who led Division 1 with 139
3-pointers last year, missed his first eight 3-point shots before
hitting one with 17:16 to go in the second half. He finished with
20 points while Wilkins scored 17 points for the Rattlers.

"The key was Novak stepping up and makes four 3s right away,
and our best shooter (Woods), a guy that leads the nation, goes
1-for-9," Gillespie said.