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March 16, 2006
Felix scores 31 to lead Bama over Marquette
SAN DIEGO - Jean Felix and Alabama quickly brought the focus back to basketball.
Felix was nearly perfect in scoring a season-high 31 points for the Crimson Tide, which beat Marquette 90-85 in a thrilling first-round NCAA game that was delayed 70 minutes after bomb-sniffing dogs detected something suspicious at San Diego State's arena Thursday morning.
Once order was restored, Felix made five 3-pointers in the first 12 1/2 minutes to help the Crimson Tide take a 15-point lead.
Marquette caught up in the second half, only to have Felix make his school-record eighth 3-pointer with less than 3 minutes left for an 84-77 lead.
Marquette's star forward, Steve Novak, had two chances late, and missed both.
With Alabama leading 86-85, the ball bounced off Felix's foot and went out of bounds, but Novak missed a turnaround jumper. Alabama's Ronald Steele made two free throws for an 88-85 lead. Novak, Marquette's all-time 3-point shooter, missed from behind the arc with 7.8 seconds left.
Brandon Hollinger finished it off with two free throws for the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide (18-12), which moves on to face the Belmont-UCLA winner in the Oakland Regional.
Marquette (20-11) was eliminated in its first NCAA tournament appearance since reaching the Final Four in 2003.
The arena hadn't yet opened to spectators when a security sweep turned up a suspicious package on a concession cart in an upper concourse about two hours before the scheduled tipoff. The arena was cleared of workers and media, and fans gathered in nearby parking lots.
The teams were kept at their hotels while a bomb robot was brought to campus.
An all-clear was given about two hours later and fans were allowed in once security staff took their posts inside the arena.
Players from Marquette were the first to take the floor for warmups, but it was 'Bama that came out hot.
Felix was an unlikely catalyst, considering that he was a combined 2-for-14 in the Crimson Tide's previous two games, losses to Mississippi State to end the regular season and Kentucky in the first round of the SEC tournament.
But he calmly put up 3 after 3, and it helped that Alabama got numerous second chances thanks to its rebounding muscle.
Felix was 8-of-11 shooting - all from behind the 3-point line - and made 7-of-8 free throws. Steele scored 23 points, and Jermareo Davidson had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Freshman guard Dominic James, who keyed Marquette's second-half comeback, had 20 points. Novak had 17. James scored seven points in two minutes early in the second half.