University Park, Pa. -- For the Sunday crowd of 11,239 at the Bryce Jordan Center the suspense was over quickly. Nittany Lion senior Talor Battle surpassed 2,000 career points just over six minutes into the game and Penn State (13-11; 6-7 Big Ten) jumped to a 20-point lead five minutes into the second half before cruising to a 65-41 victory over Northwestern (14-10; 4-9 Big Ten). For photos, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2427 online.
It was Penn State’s largest Big Ten margin of victory since 2006. The win improved Penn State to 5-2 vs. Big Ten teams at home on the year and marked the Lions’ sixth Big Ten victory of the season, a mark that equals the seventh-best total in program history. It is the fourth season in which the Lions have reached at least six Big Ten wins under coach Ed DeChellis and just the eighth in program history.
“I thought it was important,” DeChellis said of the Nittany Lions comfortable win. “I talked to them for two days that this is a game you have to have. There are games on your schedule you point to that you say you have to have. I thought they did that. I thought defensively we were pretty good tonight. I think we did a good job challenging their three-point shooters and making them do other things other than shoot threes.”
Battle logged 19 points in his Penn State record 121st career start to lead a Nittany Lion team that had four players score in double-figures for the third time this season. Battle went 7-of-9 from the floor (4-of-5 from three) to improve his career total to 2,015 points and become just the second Big Ten player in the last decade (Alando Tucker of Wisconsin) and 22nd overall to reach 2,000 points. It marked Battle’s 100th career double-figure scoring game as he reached 2,000 points four years to the day he did so in his high school career at Bishop Maginn High in Albany, N.Y.
“It’s great reaching the 2,000 mark, but, more importantly, what made it more special was we played so well,” Battle said. “We had a couple of guys step up. We played really well.
“People kept telling me that I was close, so I had a pretty good idea that I was close,” Battle said. “People were telling me before the game ‘good luck.’ They re-announced it after we won the game and it was pretty special, but the most important thing here was to win the game, and we were able to do so.”
Jeff Brooks, returning to the starting line-up for the first time after suffering a dislocated right shoulder at Illinois, netted 14 points and had two blocks. Sophomore Tim Frazier broke down Northwestern defenders to log 12 points and a game-high seven assists while going 10-of-13 at the foul line. David Jackson added 11 points and a game-high eight boards for a Penn State team that shot 62 percent in the second half to race away from the Wildcats.
Northwestern was held to a Penn State opponent season low 41 points and 15 in the first half while shooting just 34 percent for the game. The Wildcats, who entered the game averaging 9.2 threes per game, missed their first 14 from the arc and finished 2-of-21 from three. JerShon Cobb was the only Wildcat in double-figures with 10.
Penn State dominated the rebounding, 33-21, and made 15 more free throws (18-23) than the Wildcats who went just 3-of-5 at the line and shot 29 percent in the first half after suffering a nine-minute scoring drought.
Both teams started slowly from the field. Northwestern used an early 6-0 run, getting back-cut lay-ups out of its Princeton style offense, to take a 9-7 lead. Battle responded with a three that gave the Lions a 10-9 lead and put the 6-0 guard over the 2,000-point mark.
Northwestern led 13-12 at the 12:12 mark of a sluggish first half when Penn State came to life and ran off 10 unanswered points to seize control of the game. A Brooks jumper started the run. Battle got a lay-up, Brooks hit another jumper and Battle fed Billy Oliver for a lay-up. Frazier drew a foul and went to the line where he drained two to make it 22-13 as Northwestern went scoreless from the 12:12 mark to the 2:55 mark when Michael Thompson finally got a lay-up to break the Wildcats nearly 10-minute drought.
Jackson closed the half with a lay-up to put Penn State up 24-15 at the break as the Wildcats went 0-9 from three in the half and had just two points from leading scorer John Shurna.
A 6-1 Penn State run to start the second half forced Northwestern to call a timeout after Brooks fed Frazier for a fast break layup that put the Lions up 30-16 with 17:40 to play. The timeout did little to dampen Penn State’s momentum. Jackson drained a three and Battle ran off eight-straight points, getting a lay-up and back-to-back 25-foot threes, to quickly build the Lion lead over 20, 41-18, with 14:30 to play and cap a 17-3 Penn State blitz that effectively put the game away.
A pair of free throws from Billy Oliver would push the lead to 25, 45-20, with 12:02 to play and Penn State would cruise home from there as 30 former members of the Nittany Lion program looked on at “Basketball Alumni Day” at the Jordan Center.
Penn State will be back in the Jordan Center on Thursday when the Lions take on Minnesota in a crucial Big Ten contest in front of a national television audience on ESPN. That game will tip off at 7:00 p.m. on “Dollar Dog Night” at the Jordan Center.
Nittany Lion Basketball single-game tickets can be purchased by calling the ticket office at 814-865-5555, visiting GoPSUsports.com or through Ticketmaster. Single-game tickets are $18 for the lower bowl and $15 for upper level tickets for adults. Youth tickets (18 and under) are $7 for the lower bowl and $5 for upper level seating, while Penn State student tickets (University Park or branch campus) are $5 for each of the 19 home contests.
For all the latest information, notes, pictures and related links on Penn State basketball follow Assistant Athletic Communications Director Brian Siegrist on Twitter (@PSUSTRETCH) and check GoPSUsports.com. The Nittany Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstatebasketball online.