Illini Edge Penn State

Battle's attempts to pull out the victory come up short as the Nittany Lions remain winless in Big Ten.

In the Big Ten basketball wars, things have a way of evening themselves out.

And so it was for Penn State's Talor Battle in a game at Illinois Tuesday night. Battle, who hit a last-second, game-winning shot against the Illini at the Jordan Center last season, came up short when trying to pull out a victory at Assembly Hall this time around.

Down 54-53 with a minute to go, Battle had four chances to give the Nittany Lions a lead. And he missed all four shots, including a 3-point attempt just before the buzzer that was well short.

Penn State fell to 8-8 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten in losing at Illinois for the first time in four trips to Champaign. Illinois improved to 12-5 and 4-0.

The Lions led 28-23 at the half thanks to a strong opening stanza from guard Chris Babb (nine points) and a new starting lineup. Out were center Andrew Jones and forward Jeff Brooks. In were center Andrew Ott and rookie guard Tim Frazier.

Battle entered the game averaging nearly 19 points per outing, and even though he never got it going in the second half, State maintained control of the action. PSU led 48-40 when Brooks hit a 3-pointer with 8:46 to go.

But then Brooks had back-to-back turnovers and a foul, allowing the Illini to tighten it to 48-45.

Illinois finally grabbed the lead (54-53) with 1:16 showing when Demetri McCamey hit a jumper.

From there, Battle, who had been playing under control despite being held to nine points, tried to take over the game. But it didn't work.

He missed a 3-pointer and Babb rebounded. Then Battle missed another triple. Frazier then fouled towering Illini center Mike Tisdale, who missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17 seconds remaining.

Babb rebounded. Battled drove to the rim but his shot was blocked out of bounds by Tisdale, the center's career-high seventh swat of the night. There were three seconds left in the game.

Babb inbounded to Battle, who forced a long 3-point try over double coverage. Babb, who was left alone after inbounding, attempted to tip the airball but was too far under the basket to make it happen.

Babb led Penn State with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting. He was the only Lion in doubles. Battle was 4 of 19 and 1 of 7 from the arc.

McCamey paced Illinois with 25 and Tisdale added 17. The rest of the team combined for 13 points.


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