Novak, Marquette upset third-ranked team of season

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Steve Novak already says Marquette deserves to

be in the NCAA tournament.

After two wins over two Top 25 opponents in three days, Novak

thinks the Golden Eagles should be ranked, too.

He scored 27 points, hit five 3-pointers and made two important

free throws to lead Marquette to an 84-82 upset of No. 9 Pittsburgh

on Saturday night.

"We've been getting better the whole year," Novak said. "I

think we're really maturing as a team."

But does it deserve a national ranking?

"I hope so," he said. "Winning these games are all we can do.

Hopefully we've done enough to impress the right people. If we

haven't, we'll just keep working and keep getting better."

Dominic James had 16 points and Wesley Matthews added 13 to give

the Golden Eagles (18-8, 8-5 Big East) another win over a quality

opponent and snap the Panthers' three-game winning streak.

"Two ranked teams going down just gives us a lot of

confidence," James said.

It was another dramatic victory for the Golden Eagles, who also

have wins over then-No. 2 Connecticut in their Big East debut on

Jan. 3 and No. 17 Georgetown on Thursday night.

The Golden Eagles also led No. 4 Villanova for 37 minutes on the

road and led late in the second half at Pittsburgh earlier this

year before falling 77-71.

Pittsburgh (20-4, 9-4) nearly came from behind again.

Carl Krauser finished with 18 points and scored five straight to

cut Marquette's lead to 78-77 with 3 minutes to go after the Golden

Eagles led by as many as 10.

Novak and Ronald Ramon, the Panthers' most accurate 3-point

shooter, exchanged 3s with 1:51 remaining. Marquette missed two

shots on its next possession, and Pittsburgh's Aaron Gray was

fouled with 24.7 seconds left.

The 64 percent free throw shooter missed both attempts to tie,

and the Panthers were forced to foul Novak, who is 66-for-67 from

the line this season.

"[If] we make a free throw, they miss a free throw, we're very

happy," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said.

Novak didn't and gave Marquette an 83-80 lead with 11.2 left.

"He's missed one free throw in 14 months," Marquette coach Tom

Crean said. "We like to have the ball in his hands."

Ramon got a good look at the basket, but missed a 3 and Gray's

rebound and putback cut it to 83-82 with 0.2 seconds remaining.

Marquette's Joe Chapman hit a free throw for the final margin.

Pittsburgh never found a rhythm in trying to get physical with

Marquette in front of 19,007, the largest crowd ever to see a

college game in Wisconsin.

Marquette, lowly regarded to start the season, has adapted to

the physical style of the Big East, and this game was no different.

In one sequence, James fouled Ramon hard, hooking him around the

head with his arm, and Gray drew a technical foul moments later

when he threw an elbow before an inbounds play.

Gray, who had 20 rebounds against Marquette in the first game,

picked up his fourth foul with 7:54 left and finished with 10

points and seven rebounds.

Marquette had pushed the lead to 10 when Dan Fitzgerald tipped

in a miss by Novak and hit a 3-pointer of his own on the ensuing

possession to make it 68-58 with 9:46 remaining.

But most of the highlights have been by the 6-foot-11 Novak, who

set the single season mark for 3-pointers at Marquette on Thursday


The senior sharpshooter has 57 3s in Big East play with three

conference games left, six behind the record of 63 held by

Connecticut's Ray Allen in 1995-96.