Frazier, Babb Step Up

Battle struggles to score against Robert Morris but gets a lot of help from his teammates as the Nittany Lions win going away.

Coming into the season, many wondered what would happen when Penn State All-Big Ten guard Talor Battle struggled to tally points in a given game. With no other proven scorer on the roster, it was a fair question to ask about the Nittany Lions.

It took all of two outings for the answer to begin to reveal itself. After going off for 27 in the opening win against Penn last Friday, Battle was ice cold when Robert Morris came calling at the Jordan Center Monday. He went 2 of 9 from the floor and badly missed all four of his 3-point ties.

And Penn State won, 80-61, blowing open a tight game at the half to improve to 2-0 on the season. Leading the way were two of Battle's fellow guards, as true freshman Tim Frazier (19 points) and sophomore Chris Babb (15 points) both posted career-high scoring numbers.

“Talor is a really good player, one of the best in [the Big Ten],” PSU coach Ed DeChellis said. “There are going to be nights when he has to do other things for us. … People are going to try to get into him and take him out [of his game]. We need other guys to step up and I think guys did that tonight.”

Hear the DeChellis press conference.

The Nittany Lions had no juice in the first half as Robert Morris (0-2), fresh off a 100-60 loss at Syracuse, out-hustled them all over the floor. PSU trailed by as many as six, did a terrible job on the defensive glass and committed seven turnovers. Battle scored on a layup (his first basket of the game) to give the Lions a 34-33 lead at intermission.

DeChellis was disappointed with how flat his squad was.

“It was discussed at halftime,” he said.

Limited to eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, Babb was the key in the second. And to Battle's credit, he did find other ways to help the team -- namely by setting up the other guards. He finished with seven assists.

He had three of them to Babb for three 3-pointers in the first two and a half minutes of the second half to fuel a quick 11-2 run. PSU led 45-35 and then Battle scored off a steal and dunk. The crowd went crazy.


Chris Babb

“It's a great feeling [knowing] that we are not a one-man team,” Babb said. “Talor is a great player and everybody has an off night, and when he does everyone else can step up and knock down shots. That's big.”

Things were just starting to get ugly for the Colonials. When DeChellis brought Frazier off the bench, teaming him with Battle and Babb in a three-guard attack, it became a complete mismatch.

The Lions began flying up and down the floor and could not miss. Babb finished 5 of 9 from the arc while Frazier was 6 of 11 from the floor and 4 of 5 from deep.

“It just kind of happened,” said Frazier, who is known more for his athletic moves to the basket than his long-range shooting. “My teammates found me open shots.”

Penn State led 60-39 when Battle made a pair of free throws with 11:53 to go and DeChellis began to clear his bench. The first man out was Battle, who led the nation in minutes played last season.

Later this week, the Lions will play three games in four days at the Charleston (S.C.) Classic. So emerging from the RMU game with an easy win and no player who logged more than 30 minutes was key.

“We should have good energy,” DeChellis said.

And more confidence should the star player have trouble finding his range.

“It's good to have a good game like that to build momentum,” Babb said.

GAME NOTES

• Junior forward Jeff Brooks had his second straight solid game for the Lions with 12 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes.

• The Lions were outrebounded 17-15 in the first half but finished with a 38-31 edge on the boards.

• DeChellis said he is giving strong consideration to redshirting rookie guard Jermaine Marshall.

• DeChellis said he hopes to have true freshman guard Bill Edwards (knee injury) back in a week or so.

• Next up for Penn State is a matchup with UNC Wilmington in the Charleston Classic Thursday at 4 p.m. The game will be on ESPNU.


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