INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State's Talor Battle will go down as one of the most dynamic players in Penn State history. The one thing missing from his career is an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
And with that goal so close Saturday, Battle was not about to squander a chance to take it.
Battle led Penn State to a 61-48 victory over Michigan State in the Big Ten semifinals with 25 points and the Nittany Lions advanced to the Big Ten final for the first time in their history. They will will face Ohio State, which defeated Michigan 68-61.
"Everyone could talk all day about all the individual accolades," Battle said. "I would trade all those in to get to the NCAA tournament."
As sharp as Battle was, he had a little help from guard Tim Frazier, who had 22 points off efficient 9-for-13 shooting.
The Nittany Lions entered the tournament as long shots to get an NCAA bid, but after knocking off Wisconsin — albeit in an ugly 36-33 affair— and then disposing of the Spartans, they are enjoying a final week surge.
"They kept fighting and fighting," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "We've been winning a lot the last three weeks to put ourselves in this position."
The Spartans have to hope their 74-56 victory over Purdue on Friday was enough to impress the selection committee.
"Whatever they think of our resume, if we had enough key wins to outweigh the losses then we'll get in," the Spartans' Draymond Green said. "But we can't sit here and worry about what's going to happen."
In the other semifinal, Ohio State bounced back from its scare against Northwestern and clamped down defensively in the second half to defeat Michigan. The Buckeyes led 47-45 with 9 minutes, 50 seconds remaining and outscored Michigan 18-2 over the next 8:13. Jon Diebler and William Buford led the Buckeyes with 16 points apiece, while Jared Sullinger had 14 points and 13 rebounds.