Ray Gallegos caught a pass behind the arc, rose into his shot and watched as the ball went through the net.
That happened many times Monday night, as the Nebraska men’s basketball guard hit a career-high six 3-point baskets to lead Nebraska to 65 percent shooting from behind the arc, en route to a 63-51 win over USC in front of a crowd of 8,491 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Nebraska made 11 3-point buckets on the night.
“Hopefully the fans liked what they saw tonight,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “You can see that we are playing with a little more defensive force. We are attacking the glass better – on offense, our cuts are more aggressive. Certainly, aggressive teams are more confident teams.”
Gallegos scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the final two minutes of the second half, including three field goals from behind the arc. He fueled what would end up being a 16-2 run from the 1:51 mark in the first half to the 14:45 mark of the second.
During that stretch, Nebraska (6-1) held USC (3-4) without a field goal, building its lead to as many as 14 points. USC finally made a layup with 12:14 left in the game, but by then the Huskers were rolling.
Nebraska built the lead to 20 points at 52-32 on a Gallegos 3-pointer with 10:08 to go. However, USC responded with a 10-2 run of its own to cut the lead to 12. That was as close as they got.
“We are still coming along, still tweaking some things,” senior forward Brandon Ubel said. “But we just have an energy about us now, and it is building as we go along. And even when it’s gone bad, we have been able to come back.”
When the game was still in doubt midway through the second half, Nebraska’s shot clock ticked down. Dylan Talley gained possession with three seconds left on the shot clock.
He backed the ball out as the fans counted down the seconds. He threw up a fade away 3-pointer with a hand in his face as the shot clock expired. The shot swished through the basket and gave Nebraska an 18-point lead and the energy it needed to seal the win.
“That was just lucky,” Talley said. “Everyone was counting down and I just threw it up.”
Talley finished with 14 points on the night.
USC hit a couple 3-pointers to cut the lead back to 12 but couldn’t put forth any last-minute run to make the comeback.
“I thought our defense was solid,” Miles said. “There was a point in the second half that we kind of let up. We started scoreboard-watching a little bit and I was disappointed we got off the attack.”
Both teams struggled to keep control of the ball in the first half. Nebraska recorded 10 of its season-high 15 turnovers in the first half. At one point, the Huskers had seven turnovers in nine possessions before halftime.
During that stretch, USC gained its only lead of the game at 16-12 after back-to-back turnovers by Talley and Andre Almeida. Talley struggled to hold onto the ball the whole night with a game-high five turnovers.
“When we finally passed the ball to our guys, good things started to happen for us,” Miles said.
Nebraska now looks ahead to a matchup with in-state rival and No. 16 Creighton on Thursday night at the Devaney Center.
“We are going out and trying to win every game, and the next one is Creighton,” Miles said. “They have a great team, a team of a lifetime. Tonight I’ll go to work and try to beat Creighton.
“We aren’t going to raise any eyebrows until we win Thursday night.”
We have to keep playing good defense and quit turning the ball over.