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Penn forward Ugonna Onyekwe shined on both the offensive and defensive ends against FIU. [Ryan Shadis/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

For a man whose team was just slapped silly, Florida International head coach Donnie Marsh was surprisingly coherent at the post-game press conference.

The Penn men's basketball team welcomed the Golden Panthers (7-10) to Philadelphia with a 75-49 thumping last night, but Marsh had nothing but praise for the uncourteous hosts. Having seen both Penn and Princeton this season, Marsh affirmed the Quakers' place as the beast of the Ivies.

"I don't think roster-wise top to bottom that Princeton matches up with [Penn's] roster," said Marsh, whose team beat the Tigers, 49-44, on Nov. 24. "[Penn is] very, very talented. They're athletic, they're strong, they shoot the ball. And the time that we saw Princeton, I didn't think they had their act together, so to speak."

Heading into the Ivy season, those words must be gospel to Penn fans everywhere.

Last night's contest against an overmatched Florida International squad was Penn's final tune-up before the Ancient Eight season kicks off this Friday.

When Marsh was asked to come up with Penn's weaknesses, the coach drew a blank.

"Tonight, I didn't see a whole lot of them," he said.

That's because there weren't too many.

The Golden Panthers had no answer for Ugonna Onyekwe, who had a field day inside and out. Penn's 6-foot-8 forward buried 10-of-14 for 25 points, swatted away four shots and gave a facial to FIU freshman Taurance Johnson on an emphatic dunk early in the second half.

"He's just a player. He's a guy I knew we had no match for right from the beginning when I looked at our roster," Marsh said of the Quakers' star. "When Onyekwe is knocking down shots [from the perimeter] he's nearly impossible to defend."

With Onyewke and partner-in-crime Koko Archibong -- who tallied three blocks to go along with a dozen points -- leading the way, Penn jumped all over the Panthers right from the opening whistle. After a merciless 26-5 run after the first media timeout, the game was all but over.

The Quakers cooled off a bit after building an insurmountable 33-11 advantage, but they still cruised to an easy 26-point victory.

"They were just really in a groove and we just never could catch up," Marsh said. "I'd look over at the scoreboard and think we made a little bit of a run and it'd still be 18 or 20. That's just the mark of a great team."

Although the Quakers (9-3) easily dispatched of an inferior opponent, the game still brought to the table what the team needs to improve upon if it wants to bring the Ivy crown back to the Palestra.

"I still think we're a in-stretches kind of team," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We have to pay attention to a few more details and be a little more consistent. I saw some real good things, but there are some other things we have to take care of."

For instance, the Quakers were outrebounded for the 11th time this season, and a lack of tenacity under the basket has arguably become Penn's most glaring weakness this season. The Golden Panthers -- a team that relies on speed and a pesky defense more than anything else -- had no player over 6-foot-9, but still beat Penn on the boards, 35-30 and got quite a few second chances. Nobody on the Quakers, meanwhile, pulled down more than three rebounds.

This aside, the Quakers know their true test will come when they enter the Ivy portion of their schedule -- 14 games that determine whether or not they will be dancing in March.

"These guys understand there's a big prize at the end of the year and that prize is going to the NCAA tournament," Dunphy said. "That's our final goal. This weekend is a big, big step."

And the Quakers' head man is more than ready to leave behind last year's subpar 9-5 Ancient Eight mark.

"We're not fixated on last year's team -- that was last year's team," Dunphy said, burying the hatchet on the 2000-2001 season. "We don't ever think about it, we don't ever worry about it."

All Dunphy and his team are thinking about now is preparing for Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend.

The Quakers are 12 games into their schedule, but in many ways the season starts now.

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