Novak connects on eight threes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he felt

fine on Saturday -- until Marquette's Steve Novak started hitting


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


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


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.