It wasn't a normal week for the Penn State men's basketball team.
With days off and shorter practices because of final exams, head coach Ed DeChellis had little time to prepare for Saturday's matchup with Gardner-Webb.
But following a 104-57 rout of the Runnin' Bulldogs in front of a sparse Bryce Jordan Center crowd, DeChellis joked that with the way his team played, he is thinking of implementing those practice schedule changes permanently.
" [Friday] was the only day we practiced with everybody there," DeChellis said. "Maybe that's the way we should practice all the time - I don't know."
With a week off after a devastating home loss to Virginia Tech, DeChellis was concerned the Nittany Lions (7-4) could potentially spend the first few minutes shaking off the rust.
Couple that with a history of shaky starts this season, a small crowd because of winter break, a snowstorm and a strange pregame routine because of graduation ceremonies in the BJC earlier in the day, and DeChellis said the most important thing would be for the team to make its own energy instead of finding it from a routine or a crowd.
Sophomore guard Chris Babb, who scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, agreed, saying the Lions knew what to expect and adjusted to the circumstances accordingly.
"Over breaks like this, pretty much everyone is gone," Babb said. "So we have to create our own energy. We came out and tried to get as excited as we could before the game. We took our defense into our offense and got easy buckets in transition."
DeChellis used Babb, freshman Tim Frazier and junior Talor Battle in a three-guard offense for most of the night. The trio combined to score 51 points, and the Lions as a team dished out 22 assists.
DeChellis said the Lions are capable of breaking out like that when they shoot the ball well. On Saturday, the Lions made a season-high 12 3-pointers and shot more than 50 percent from the floor.
"That all started at the defensive end," DeChellis said. "We started rebounding, pushing the ball, having some fun with the ball and sharing the ball."
Talor Battle created most of that energy, leading the Lions with 21 points despite playing only 24 minutes.
He helped Penn State jump out to a 30-4 lead with an early 19-0 run. In the middle of that stretch, Battle hit an NBA-range three, and when the Bulldogs tried to run the break on the ensuing possession, he drew a charge.
Gardner-Webb (3-6) head coach Rick Scruggs, whose team has already faced Duke and North Carolina this season, said Battle's performances - both Saturday's and ones he has seen on film - have impressed him just as much as other those of other Tobacco Road guards.
"Battle can play on any team we've played against this year. He'd fit in great with Duke or Carolina. Carolina could really use him right now, in fact," Scruggs said. "He's definitely a big-time player."
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