3:00 PM ET, January 31, 2004
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.