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Battle, Penn State uses late charge to sink Illinois

Feb 19, 2009 - 4:48 AM CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- It was very ugly, but Talor Battle and Penn State wrapped up another successful trip to Assembly Hall.

Battle scored six of his 11 points in the closing 2 1/2 minutes as Penn State pulled out an unsightly 38-33 victory over No. 16 Illinois on Wednesday.

After managing to score just 24 points through the first 33-plus minutes, the Nittany Lions (19-8, 8-6 Big Ten) picked it up on the defensive end, forcing four turnovers while going on a 14-2 run to end the game.

"There weren't many clean looks," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "It was a great effort by us and we gave ourselves a chance. We haven't been scoring well, so I told our kids to keep defending. I'm proud of our guys."

Overall, the Fighting Illini (21-6, 9-5) committed 15 turnovers in losing to Penn State at home for the third straight time.

Andrew Jones III had seven points and eight rebounds for the Nittany Lions, who held Illinois to the lowest point total in their history in the Big Ten Conference.

Chester Frazier and Trent Meacham both had seven points for the Fighting Illini, who missed four of their final five shots in ending up 30 percent (15-of-50) from the field.

Similarly, Penn State was 28 percent (13-of-46) from the floor, including 3-of-17 on 3-pointers.

Mike Tisdale added six points and 10 rebounds for Illinois, which had its lowest point total since a 34-31 loss to Minnesota on January 6, 1947.

"We only scored four points in the last 10 minutes of the game, so obviously didn't get many good shots off," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "To their credit, they guarded us. We shot 30 percent and they shot 28 percent. They made the plays when it counted."

To add to its woes from the field, Illinois failed to attempt a free throw in ending up with less than 40 points for the second time this season. It was the first time in the 46-year history of Assembly Hall that the Illini did make a trip to the stripe.

"It's our fault, didn't go strong to the hoop, didn't get the ball inside enough," Weber said. "Down the stretch, we talked about spreading it, getting it into to (Tisdale) to see if he could make a play. We might have had too many guys trying to make plays on their own instead of moving the basketball. Ten assists, 15 turnovers isn't very good."

Illinois ended with a handful of site records, including lowest point total, easily beating the 44 its mustered in a loss to Ohio State on January 6, 2007.

It was an unforgettable affair throughout, as either team failed to score for the first four minutes until Mike Davis hit a jumper for the Illini with 15:57 to play. Even with more than 10 minutes expired, both teams had failed to crack double digits as they both absorbed their worst halves of the season.

Battle had just three points at the break as Penn State held a 17-15 edge, one that did not last long as Illinois tied the score in the opening moment of the second half and later went on a 10-1 run to forge a 29-20 lead on Demetri McCamey's 3-pointer with 10:19 remaining.

It was the first of only two baskets for the Illini's second-leading scorer, who finished with five points on 2-of-11 shooting.

McCamey, who averaged 12.0 points coming in, was bothered by a sickness according to Weber.

"He is still sick. Someone said he threw up at halftime," Weber said. "I thought he was feeling better but just didn't play very well. Obviously we need him to make some plays and play better."

With McCamey not near his best, Illinois missed seven of nine shots and committed five turnovers over the closing 10 minutes.