Penn State guard and Big Ten leading scorer Talor Battle headed to Northwestern needing just three assists to reach 500 on his career. He got exactly three as his Nittany Lions soundly defeated Northwestern 66-52. With the 500 assists under his belt, he becomes the first player to record 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in Big Ten history.
Only nine others in Division I college basketball history have reached this feat; they are: Danny Ainge, Speedy Claxton, Johnny Dawkins, Danny Ferry, Ron Lee, Jameer Nelson, Tim Smith, Chris Thomas and Grevis Vasquez.
“It’s a milestone, and a great feeling…and when I look back over it, after I’m done playing it will mean more to me. But right now I’m just focused on getting some big wins to push for postseason play, and that’s my main focus,” said Battle after the game.
By Paul M. Banks
I then followed up by asking if it’s difficult to remain focused on the next game, the next task ahead, given all the milestones and records he’s in sight of. Specifically, I asked if his family and friends talk about his numbers and accomplishments.
“Family and friends don’t you care about it, it’s you guys (the media) and Pennsylvania guys and everybody else asking me about it. I’m just so happy it’s done with, so I don’t have to keep fielding the questions. It’s been overwhelming as people keep asking the same questions so then it (the required numbers for the next milestone) get stuck in my head, so I know exactly what I need. So to get it done, get it out of the way is great, now I can just concentrate,” Talor answered.
Battle came in to the game having made 26 threes (5.2 per game) while shooting 47 percent from the arc in his last five games. He posted back-to-back career-high equaling totals of seven threes in his last two outings and is posting 24.0 ppg over the five game span. But against NU he hit just 1-7 from distance. He had an off shooting game, but still scored 13. That’s significantly below his Big Ten leading 20.9 ppg scoring average heading into Thursday.
That’s a very good sign for Penn State and their NCAA hopes- Battle having an off night, and the Lions still win big on the road. Penn State’s 16-12 record doesn’t look tourney-worthy, but they are 8-8 in conference, 62 in RPI and 6 in strength of schedule.
“That’s the most important thing to me. All the individual statistics, they go a long way, but when I leave I just want to be able to say I had the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, see what it feels like- that would be the greatest achievement. Never mind all my individual accolades, and all the things like that. I’m trying to get them all out of my head, so I can just concentrate and make a push with my teammates to get to the postseason,” he said.
And there’s always another record that’s withing striking distance.
“But then my Coach tells me I need six rebounds to get get 600, so another one pops in my head, and it never ends,” Battle said light-heartedly.
And there’s still the PSU scoring record; but that’s another story for another time.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He is also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
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