Lions Roll Into Big Ten Final Behind Battle and Frazier
March 12, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS, IND., March 12, 2011 - Penn State (19-13; 9-9 Big Ten) continued its march toward its first NCAA Tournament bid in 10 years Saturday with a resounding 61-48 victory over Michigan State (19-14; 9-9 Big Ten) in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals in Indianapolis. Penn State road the stellar play of backcourt tandem Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y.) and Tim Frazier (Houston, Texas) into its first ever Big Ten Tournament championship game appearance.
"I just thought that we would , somewhere along the way , just all gel and play and come together," DeChellis said of the Lions Tournament run. "We've been piecing this thing sort of together the last three weeks, different guys have stepped up. I thought we always had the capability to do it. We've done the things that we needed to do. You know, we're going to play hard tomorrow and see what happens, but whatever happens, we need to be in the (NCAA) tournament."
The Nittany Lions will take on No. 1-ranked Ohio State (31-2; 16-2 Big Ten), a 68-61 winner over Michigan in the other semifinal, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS. The Buckeyes won a pair of meetings vs. Penn State this season, but it was very close in Columbus with the Lions leading with under three minutes to play before Ohio State pulled out a 69-66 win. The Buckeyes posted an 82-61 victory in State College a month later as Jon Diebler hit a Big Ten record 10-of-12 from three.
"I've been telling everyone, I'll trade all those (individual accolades) in to get to the NCAA tournament, and to win tomorrow would be huge," Battle said. "We play the No. 1 team in the country, and I think we're playing well right now, and hopefully we can keep that up tomorrow."
Saturday Battle and Frazier were too much for the Spartans as Battle ran off 14-straight points early in the second half on his way to 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes. Battle, who had struggled shooting in Penn State's first two tournament wins, hit 6-of-11 from three, including four big second half bombs that broke the Spartans will. His trifecta out-put on the day moved him into a tie for second all-time in three-pointers at Penn State with Joe Crispin with 308.
Meanwhile, Frazier played the best game of his young collegiate career racking a career-high 22 points, and team-highs of eight rebounds and six assists while shooting 9-of-13 from the floor. Frazier hounded the Spartans Kalin Lucas all night as well forcing the Spartan into five turnovers.
Lucas led the Spartans with 16 points, while Durrell Summers posted 11 and Draymond Green 10. After a hot start, Michigan State hit just 32 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded 38-32 by a Nittany Lion team that outscored the Spartans 35-22 in the second half after the teams went to halftime the locker rooms tied at 26.
It looked like the Spartans night early as they carried over the play that saw them knock off No. 2 seed Purdue, 74-56, on Friday. The Spartans started 5-of-6 from the floor to claim a 14-4 lead just under four minutes into the game following a Lucas three.
"I thought Michigan State came out of the gate very, very well and punched us pretty good" DeChellis said. "I thought the positive thing for us was we were able to absorb it and get back in the thing, and we felt pretty good at halftime going in that we didn't play very well the first five, seven minutes and we're still in the game."
Battle steadied the Lion ship hitting a deep three to cut the Spartan lead to 14-7 and Frazier followed with a three of his own to trim the lead to four, 14-10, with 13:12 to play. The Spartans came back with an Austin Thornton jumper and Green three to regain a nine-point lead. But, a Spartan team that started hot hit two of its next nine as Penn State gained a footing.
Jeff Brooks, who had eight points and six boards, buried a three and Jermaine Marshall got a short jumper to get Penn State back within four, 19-15. Brooks hit a jumper to extend the run to 7-0 and the Lions were down two.
After a Mike Kebler jumper, Frazier got a steal and a lay-up and then Brooks stole the ball and fed Frazier for another break-out lay-up and the game was tied at 21. Battle continued the Lion run with a lay-up off another Brooks steal and Penn State had its first lead of the game, 23-21.
Michigan State tied it up, but Battle buried a three for a three-point Lion margin. Lucas hit Keith Appling in the corner for a three and the teams went to the locker rooms tied.
The second half was all Penn State as Michigan State managed to shoot just 21 percent and Battle lit up Conseco Fieldhouse. With Penn State holding a 30-29 lead, Battle hit the first of four-straight threes as he went on a 14-point spurt that had fans buzzing and the Spartans in shock. He buried deep three after deep three over Spartans as Penn State went on a 12-4 run to take a 42-33 lead following a Battle bomb at 14:07.
Green hit a jumper to get the Spartans within seven, put Frazier continued to push the tempo and the Lions slashed their way to another 7-0 run to take a 49-35 lead mid-way through the half. Battle hit two at the line to complete his string of 14-straight points, grabbed a rebound and fed Frazier who went up the floor to get a slashing lay-up. The Spartans missed a pair of threes and Frazier fed Brooks for a trey.
The Lions controlled the game the rest of the way as Frazier and Battle seemed to exhaust the Spartans pushing the ball in transition.
The Lions pushed their lead to 15 following a pair of Frazier buckets and a Battle free throw at the 5:51 mark. The Spartans would only get as close as 10 the rest of the way as Penn State hit 9-of-12 at the line in the final five minutes.
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GAME NOTES Penn State advances to the Big Ten Tournament title game for the first time in program history and is the seventh different school to advance to the title game in the Tournament's 14-year history.
Penn State has won seven of its last nine games and four-straight vs. Big Ten teams.
The victory marked Penn State's fifth RPI top 50 win of the year and 10th Top100 win.
Penn State has held its three Big Ten Tournament opponents to 36.2 percent shooting combined.
This is the sixth time that a team that played in opening round has advanced to the Big Ten final. Only once has that team won the championship (#6 seed Iowa, 2001).
Talor Battle became the Big Ten's all-time leader in minutes played on the night passing Illinois' Dee Brown (4,698). Battle has played all 40 minutes in seven of the last eight games and now has played 4,719 career minutes.
Tim Frazier logged a career-high 22 points on the night on career highs of nine field goals and 13 attempts. Frazier's previous season high was 12, and previous career high was 19 scored in the second game of his freshman year.
Frazier's total was the fifth highest for a Penn State player in the Big Ten Tournament.
Battle passed Scott Skiles (MSU) and Cazzie Russell (MICH) to move into 12th all-time on the Big Ten scoring list.
Battle's six threes on the night improved his career total to 308 tying him with Joe Crispin for second all-time at Penn State and 6th all-time in the Big Ten. His 97 threes on the year are the third-best season total in PSU history.
Battle moved into fourth place on Penn State's single-season scoring list (640).
Batttle recorded his 46th career 20-point game and 16th on the season, with a game-high 25 points, the second highest total by a Penn State player in the Big Ten Tournament.
Jeff Brooks blocked two shots to move into 10th on Penn State's season block list with 44 on the year.