Gophers will have Battle on their hands at Penn State

  • Article by: MYRON P. MEDCALF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 17, 2011 - 7:01 AM

Senior standout Talor Battle has accounted for nearly a third of Penn State's scoring during Big Ten games.

Guard Talor Battle scored 19 points and went 4-for-5 from three-point range in Penn State’s home victory over Northwestern on Sunday. The win broke a three-game losing streak.

Photo: Christopher Weddle, AP

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Blake Hoffarber casually rattled off the weapons available to Talor Battle, whom the Gophers men's basketball team will try to corral when it faces Penn State on Thursday night in State College, Pa.

"They've got one of the best guards in the country in Talor Battle," Hoffarber said. "He can pretty much do everything. He can shoot from the outside, dribble, pull up, drive. So if we just stop him, I think he's the main focal point of their team."

But that might demand some luck, he admitted.

"Hopefully, he's having an off night shooting," he said.

No player in the Big Ten does more for his team offensively than Battle, who has accounted for 32 percent of his team's 62.3 points per game in conference play.

He has recorded double figures in 20 consecutive games. And with seven more assists, he'll become the first Big Ten player to reach 2,000 points, 500 assists and 500 rebounds.

"I just try to play hard, fearless for 40 minutes," Battle said. "I just keep coming at people. ... I know I've got to bring that energy."

Battle, who's third in the Big Ten with an average of 20.2 points per game, is the first obstacle in a point-guard gantlet that the Gophers must conquer in their final five regular-season games -- and that's without the injured Al Nolen. Tests against Michigan State's Kalin Lucas, Michigan's Darius Morris and Northwestern's Michael Thompson will follow. Then the Gophers have another matchup against Battle on March 6.

"We've always been impressed with Talor Battle," coach Tubby Smith said. "He's one of my favorite players in the way he competes and how hard he plays. He's having a very good year. ... So we're not going to stop him, we just need to know where he is on the court."

Battle remains one of the most underrated players in America, but that'll change if he leads the Nittany Lions to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001, a goal the senior believes his team will accomplish.

"My goal was to get to the NCAA tournament," he said. "We still have an opportunity."

His determination fueled a 65-41 victory Sunday over Northwestern, a victory that ended a three-game losing skid. He scored 19 points, went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and also recorded two steals.

"Even with your best guy on him, he's a real challenge," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said.

With Battle leading the way, the Nittany Lions also have knocked off Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State at the Bryce Jordan Center, where they're 5-2 in Big Ten competition.

Smith said he will employ a 2-3 zone for the majority of the game and start the three "bigs" -- Ralph Sampson III, Colton Iverson and Trevor Mbakwe -- a setup he's favored with Nolen sidelined.

"It's important that no one guy is going to be guarding him," Smith said.

Battle is capable of exploiting the gaps in that scheme (his 2.77 three-pointers per game leads the Big Ten). He twice scored 31 points against Michigan, which relies on the zone. But the Nittany Lions lost both games.

"Just focus where he is," Hoffarber said. "We've gotta talk every time he's cutting corner, cutting middle. We've gotta talk [and] say, 'He's coming through, coming through.'"

  • related content

  • Gophers basketball Live Chat: Read the replay

    Thursday February 17, 2011

    Join Myron P. Medcalf for a Live Chat on Gophers basketball at noon Thursday.

  • Talor Battle's career stats

    Thursday February 17, 2011

    Senior guard Talor Battle has 2,015 career points and needs 124 more to break Penn State's 55-year-old record. Here are some of Battle's other stats and where they rank at...

  • Maturi confident practice facility can get done

    Thursday February 17, 2011

    After a recent loss to Ohio State, Tubby Smith reiterated his desire for a new practice facility, a structure most Big Ten men's basketball programs either enjoy currently or will...

  • Gophers-Penn State game preview

    Thursday February 17, 2011

    Preview: Despite their recent struggles, the Gophers (17-8, 6-7 Big Ten) and Nittany Lions (13-11, 6-7) believe they're still capable of dancing in March. The two squads ended losing streaks...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 5:30 PM
Miami 12:00 PM
LA Lakers 1:00 PM
New York
Arizona 12:00 PM
St. Louis 12:00 PM
Nashville 1:00 PM
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Miami-Florida 11:30 AM
Florida State
Oakland 11:30 AM
Youngstown St
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
East Carolina
Michigan 12:00 PM
Michigan State
Marist 1:00 PM
Fordham 1:00 PM
Manhattan 1:00 PM
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Utah 1:30 PM
Connecticut 2:00 PM
California 2:00 PM
North Dakota St 2:00 PM
Western Ill
Penn State 11:00 AM
(22) Rutgers
(14) Texas 12:00 PM
Coll of Charleston 12:00 PM
Cornell 12:00 PM
Xavier 12:00 PM
Drexel 12:00 PM
Stony Brook 12:00 PM
New Hampshire
Maine 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida 12:00 PM
(21) Georgia 12:00 PM
(10) Kentucky
Arizona 12:00 PM
Wake Forest 12:00 PM
(4) Notre Dame
Loyola-Chicago 12:05 PM
Illinois State
(24) Oklahoma 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Butler 1:00 PM
St Johns 1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Delaware 1:00 PM
Binghamton 1:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Vermont 1:00 PM
William & Mary 1:00 PM
Boston College 1:00 PM
(16) North Carolina
Virginia 1:00 PM
(2) Connecticut 1:00 PM
Arkansas 1:00 PM
Virginia Tech 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Kansas 1:00 PM
(3) Baylor
Canisius 1:00 PM
Monmouth 1:00 PM
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Saint Peters
Wichita State 1:05 PM
Evansville 1:05 PM
Indiana State
(18) Miss State 2:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
Villanova 2:00 PM
Georgetown 2:00 PM
North Texas 2:00 PM
Auburn 2:00 PM
(12) Texas A&M
(11) Arizona State 2:00 PM
Missouri State 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Michigan 2:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Wisconsin 2:00 PM
Bradley 2:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida 3:00 PM
(20) Iowa 3:00 PM
(5) Maryland
(1) South Carolina 3:30 PM
Ole Miss
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question