TUCSON, Ariz. - With a team's back to the wall and the game on the line, I wouldn't rather have anyone in America with the ball in his hands than Talor Battle.
It is easy to write about the fact that he is Penn State's all-time leading scorer and how he will go down in rare company with the quantity of points, rebounds and assists he tallied during his career. But the character No. 12 has shown every single second during his four seasons in Happy Valley puts Battle in a category by himself.
Thursday's loss at the buzzer was an agonizing way for the Nittany Lions to see their season come to a close, but they have nothing to hang their heads about. Penn State went down at the McKale Center in Talor Battle fashion - swinging until the final whistle.
"You know, for the rest of my life, I'll know that, we didn't come out here and get beat," Battle said. "You know, it took a heck of a shot from (Juan) Fernandez to beat us. I bet you one thing, for the rest of our lives we'll be able to watch the 2011 one shining moment and always have to see that shot."
It goes without saying that Juan Fernandez's game winning basket was a shot that will be remembered in Penn State lore forever. It was a crushing way to bow out of the NCAA Tournament, but the bigger picture from Thursday illustrates what made Battle and this Penn State team special.
Jeff Brooks popped his shoulder out of place early in the second half, like he did at Illinois in February. Down a major piece in Penn State's offensive and defensive attack, the Nittany Lions battled and battled and battled against Temple. All five players left everything they had on the hardwood in the second half.
Temple did a terrific job defending Battle, but No. 12 still scored 23 points, including five 3-pointers. The shot that will stick in the mind forever was his 26-foot game tying 3-pointer with 16 seconds on the clock. If there could have been one shot to describe Talor Battle's legacy, it would have been that 3-pointer.
Like he has countless times throughout his career, Battle attempted the shot from well beyond the arc (26 feet). Additionally, it proved to be Penn State's biggest field goal attempt of the afternoon, and it was in the NCAA Tournament second round.
When the shot left his hands on the far side of the court from the Penn State bench, it was never a question in my mind that it was going to spin through the nylon net. Battle was built for times like that one. He could not have gone out with a more fitting basket.
"I was just trying to get to where I could shoot the ball open," Battle said. "Right when I shot it, I knew it was going in. First thing I said was let's not get too excited. We got to get a stop."
Unfortunately, the Lions fell agonizingly short of playing in the third round of the tournament. But the legacy left by No. 12 will live in Penn State sports lore for decades to come.
"I feel like it was a successful career," Battle said. "I think I came here, like I said to coach in the locker room; when the five of us seniors got here this program was very bad at the time, you know. And what we did in four years of hard work, two of those four years, we had really successful seasons."
Battle earned every single one of his 2,213 points in Penn State blue and white. He leaves the program as the best scorer in program history. Battle willed the Nittany Lions through more adversity during his four seasons than you could even imagine.
He made the biggest shot of his career in the final seconds of a game in the NCAA Tournament. Battle and the Nittany Lions may have fallen one shot short in Tucson, but to call No. 12's career anything short of stellar would not do him justice.