On any other day, the loss of Talor Battle would have meant an instant end to the Penn State men's basketball team.
Saturday, the other players on the Nittany Lions stepped up in the absence of their floor leader and pushed the Purdue Boilermakers to the limit. Despite eventually falling 64-60, the players know they are playing at a high level at the right time.
Battle left the game with what coach Ed DeChellis described as nausea and dizziness and said the guard was close to vomiting. Once the junior left the floor, and later the bench, the rest of the players kept going.
"I don't think we even noticed. I think that's how much better everyone's gotten," junior forward Jeff Brooks said. "Everyone's playing with confidence right now. It sucked seeing Talor go out of the game, but we all kept our heads and were mature enough to keep playing, keep fighting and try to win the game."
Battle left the game with 7:06 remaining in the second half and never returned. After a few minutes on the end of the bench with team trainers, Battle got up and went back to the team's locker room. The junior was unavailable for comment after the game.
The Lions got a 51-46 deficit down to 61-60 without Battle before Purdue pulled away. With Battle -- the player who normally takes every big shot for the Lions -- reeling in the corridors of the Bryce Jordan Center, sophomore Chris Babb continued to find the ball in his own hands.
"I knew that somebody was going to have to take the big shot and it just happened to be in my hands," Babb said. "Normally as everyone knows it would have been [Battle] but it just came my way and I just did what I needed to do."
Babb tied Battle to lead the team in scoring with 17 points, scoring six after Battle went out. With about seven seconds left, Babb got a look from 3 to tie the game, but the shot went off the side of the rim. The guard said it was a good look but the shot "just didn't go in."
Aside from Babb, Brooks played a strong game, scoring 12 points and adding seven rebounds, and continued his aggressive play inside. Purdue coach Matt Painter said the Lions were much improved from the first time the teams met, saying the Lions have a good stable of players around Battle, especially Babb when he is on.
"Babb didn't play well against us the first time but now he's playing at a higher level right now," Painter said. "When he's making shots they're a dangerous team."
Painter said his team was fortunate that Battle went out, but added he didn't want to see his team win without Penn State's best on the floor.
Freshman guard Tim Frazier took over Battle's role of distributor and creator and settled into the role, finding Babb at the end of the game. DeChellis said Frazier did a good job, as did the rest of the players.
"Tim came in and did some good things, turned it over a little bit early. We were our own worst enemy there for a little while," DeChellis said. "But he came in and played with some poise. Chris made a big shot or two and made some free throws. Everybody pitched in and that's all positive, all good stuff."