January 23, 2010

UW already Battle-tested

MADISON - If Penn State is going to have success on the hardwood, chances are Talor Battle is going to lead them there.

During his career, he has simply been sensational. He has led his team to a NIT championship, scored over 30 points on multiple occasions and helped his team claim upset victories on more than one occasion.

He's an exceptional player and will continue to be one until his career at Penn State comes to a close.

On Sunday, Wisconsin will be tested by his presence yet again as the Nittany Lions try to snap a skid of 11 straight losses to the Badgers.

"Anytime you have a player like Talor Battle and his abilities it's a great asset to a team," UW senior guard Jason Bohannon said. "He's doing a lot of great things right now and their team is doing some great things right now but they just haven't been able to finish it out.

"We don't want to let them get it started against us."

Battle is averaging a team best 18.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and serves as one of the quicker defensive players in the league. He is capable of forcing players into difficult defensive situations when he has the ball and difficult offensive situations when he's defending the rock.

Simply put, Battle is basically the only spark plug for the Penn State engine that is sputtering through Big Ten play.

"He's a tough nosed kid," Bohannon said. "He plays really hard. He does everything the coaches ask for him and leads his team. Anytime you have a point guard that has the abilities he does and leads his team the way he does, it says a lot.

"He gets his teammates motivated around him and leads by example. Like I said, that's a great thing to have."

When Penn State graces the Kohl Center floor Sunday afternoon, it will do so as a winless team. But not many winless teams nearly midway through the conference season have a player as capable and dynamic as Battle.

In fact, Battle will be the third straight All-Big Ten player to go against Wisconsin after the Badgers have played Evan Turner and Manny Harris in their two most recent games.

This time, one of UW's better defenders in Trevon Hughes will be the primary on the ball defender against one of the Big Ten's best point guards. And the Badger senior has had some great success against Battle in the past.

In five career games against Wisconsin, Battle has averaged 9.6 points per game with his best scoring game coming earlier this year. That 15-point performance in a losing effort is only one of three tries when the Nittany Lion junior topped double digits against UW.

Keeping in mind that Battle has averaged nearly 15 points per game over his career, that five-point difference is even more impressive.

"We've seen him once all year," UW sophomore Jordan Taylor said. "I don't think Talor Battle has ever done too much against Pop (Trevon Hughes). Pop's always done a great job against him. I hope Sunday's not any different."

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