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Nittany Lions roll past Fairfield, 64-49

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Brooks and Battle net 39 of Penn State's 64 points, Brooks also adds nine rebounds

Jeff Brooks posted career highs in points and rebounds for the second-straight game and Talor Battle posted his 32nd career 20-point outing as Penn State led by as many as 25 in rolling past preseason MAAC favorite Fairfield, 64-49, at the Bryce Jordan Center Friday.

The victory improved Penn State to 3-0 for the third time under coach Ed DeChellis and marked just the seventh 3-0 start in the Big Ten era for the Lions who made a post-season appearance in each of their previous six 3-0 starts since joining the Big Ten.

Battle led Penn State with 20 points and added five rebounds on the night as he moved past DeRon Hayes (1,570) and Jamelle Cornley (1,579) into fourth all-time on the Nittany Lion scoring charts with 1,582 points.

"I think it is a great accomplishment," DeChellis said of Battle. "That's the kind of guy I think he is. When we recruited him, we thought he could be a special player and he has really turned about to be a special player. Not only scoring but also as an ambassador to the program."

Brooks continued his stellar early season play posting a career-best equaling nine rebounds for the third-straight game and adding a career-high 19 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the three-point line. Fellow senior Andrew Jones added 11 rebounds and eight points as the Nittany Lions made 9-of-22 from three just three days after a 1-of-21 outing vs. St. Joseph's.

"I talked about our feet, I talked about our positioning when we are catching the ball, and I didn't talk about the end result," DeChellis said about the shooting turn-around. "I talked about the preparation for the shot. I didn't want them thinking `we're not making any shots,' my thing was let's prepare to make the shot."

Penn State continued to play strong defense putting the clamps on a team's leading scorer for the third straight game. This time it was Stag guard Derek Needham who under pressure from Battle and Tim Frazier and a solid team effort went 2-of-12 from the floor for six points. Needham led Fairfield (1-2) posting 16.5 ppg last season. No Stag reached double-figures as Greg Nero led the way with nine points for a Fairfield team that was held to 31 percent shooting from the floor and 20 percent (3-of-15) from three.

"I thought Tim Frazier did a very nice job defensively on the point guard for Fairfield who is a really good player," DeChellis said. "He bothered him all night. I thought Billy Oliver did a nice job on the inside and he's always where he is supposed to be. I thought Andrew Jones rebounded the ball well. This (Fairfield) is going to be a good team in their league and is one (game) that I was really concerned about."

Penn State quickly got past its three-point struggles of Tuesday night as Brooks started the scoring with a three and the Lions hit 5-of-9 (56%) through the first 20 minutes from the arc.

A pair of back-to-back threes from Battle pushed Penn State to a 10-6 lead. After Fairfield closed to within 12-10, Penn State used a 12-2 run to open up a 10-point lead midway through the half.

Battle hit Jones in the lane for a dunk and Brooks followed with another three to ignite the run. Billy Oliver pulled a nice offensive board and then drained a 15-foot baseline jumper and Cammeron Woodyard hit a three over the Stags 2-3 zone to extend to a 22-12 Penn State lead.

Needham got his first and only points of the first half with a three to cut the lead to 22-15 and end the Lion run with 5:30 to play in the half. Penn State was unable to extend its lead on several opportunities in the closing minutes. A Battle baseline cut and lay-up off a feed from Tim Frazier, who had seven assists on the night, capped Penn State's scoring as the teams went to the locker room with Penn State leading 26-18. The Lions shot just 34 percent in the half as Fairfield switched defenses between a 2-3 zone, man-to-man and even a 1-2-2 halfcourt press.

Penn State figured out the Fairfield defense in the second half and shot 47 percent from the floor as it pulled away. A Colin Nickerson jumper pulled the Stags to within six, but Brooks reeled off five quick points on a shote jumper and a three to rebuild the lead to nine.

Leading 38-29 with 13:28 to play, Brooks hit the last of his four threes to spark a 12-0 Penn State run that put the game away. Battle followed with a three of his own and another jumper in the lane. Brooks grabbed an offensive board and put it back in and Battle hit another jumper to give Penn State a 50-29 lead with 8:45 to play.

A Jones offensive rebound and dunk and a Taran Buie three built the lead to 25 with 3:09 to play before Penn State cleared its bench.

The Nittany Lions will complete a four-game home stand to start the season on Monday when they take on Central Connecticut State in a 7:00 p.m. tip live on the Big Ten Network.

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