Before Penn State's 65-41 victory against Northwestern on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center, the school's 2,000 point club was a lonely place. Nittany Lion hardwood legend Jesse Arnelle stood alone among Penn State's all-time leading scorers north of the hallowed mark, but that all changed quickly after Talor Battle started his Penn State record 121st game.
The senior forward passed 2,000 points with an early 3-point jumper on his way to a game-high 19 points in the victory, making him not only the second Penn State player to score 2,000, but the first in the Big Ten era and 22nd in conference history.
When the feat was announced the Jordan Center crowd, Battle received a standing ovation. He wasn't quite sure if it was for him, however, as he missed the announcement in the heat of the timeout.
"Our most important thing was to win the game here," Battle said after the game. "I kind of put my hand up in the air because they were standing...I don't know if that's why they were standing, but I was just kind of saying thank you."
They were standing for him, though, as he added another big piece to his ever growing legacy on the hardwood in Happy Valley.
The accomplishment came four years to the day after he reached the 2,000 point plateau at Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, N.Y. On that day, Battle said the occasion was more celebrated as he was not only the first player to score 2,000 points at Maginn, but in the Big Ten conference in upstate New York. The game was stopped, his mother was brought out onto the floor, and he was presented with a basketball celebrating the event.
Sunday at Penn State, however, was all business.
Battle led the Lions out of the gates as Penn State established a comfortable nine-point lead heading into the half. He and his teammates locked down big time defensively in the first half, holding Northwestern to 15 points and under 30% shooting. In the second half, Penn State's offense kicked into gear, and the Lions led by as many as 25 points before giving way to subs at the end of the game.
After the game, however, Jeff Brooks reflected positively on Battle's career and what he's meant to Penn State since he arrived on campus in 2007.
"I'm so happy for him," Brooks said with a shake of his head and a chuckle. "That's a great milestone to have in college, and I know he's going to keep it rolling. He's not going to stop."
Brooks, a classmate of Battle's, made his first start since Penn State's upset of Wisconsin two weeks ago after missing the home loss to Michigan last week and coming off the bench at Michigan State. He added 14 points and five rebounds on the afternoon. Tim Frazier and David Jackson also added double figure scoring for the Lions in the win.
Penn State now looks forward to a matchup with No. 25 Minnesota on Thursday at the Jordan Center. At 13-11 and 6-7 in conference, the Lions need every win they can get, and a victory over another ranked opponent would certainly go a long way toward helping Battle and his teammate reach the goal they set in the preseason: reaching the NCAA Tournament.
With all that going on, however, coach Ed DeChellis still found time after the game to reflect on Battle's contributions to the program.
"It's a great honor for him to score 2,000 points," DeChellis said. "Not many guys have done that in their careers and he's a special player."