EL PASO, Texas - Nebraska scored the game's first 10 points and never looked back, advancing to the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational with an 89-75 win over Central Michigan Saturday evening.
The Huskers, who improved to 8-3 on the season and will meet the winner of tonight's UTEP/Arkansas Pine Bluff match-up, shot a season-high 57 percent from the floor, including 9-of-18 from 3-point range in posting their highest offensive output since the 2009-10 season.
Dylan Talley's 21 points, including a career-best six 3-pointers, led four Huskers in double figures. Sophomore David Rivers established career bests with 20 points and seven rebounds, while junior Ray Gallegos had 19 points, including three early 3-pointers to get Nebraska going early. Brandon Ubel added 14 points, as NU set season bests in points, assists and field goal percentage in picking up its second straight win.
Gallegos and Talley combined for eight of the Huskers' first 10 points, as they scored on their first four possessions to force an early Central Michigan timeout. Moments later, Gallegos hit 3-pointers to give Nebraska a 16-6 lead. While Nebraska was red hot from the floor in the first half, Central Michigan (6-5) took advantage of several Husker miscues to pull within 22-15 before Nebraska took control.
The Huskers, who hit 12 of their first 15 shots from the floor, went on a 14-2 surge, as Talley connected on consecutive 3-pointers to help Nebraska build a 36-17 lead after a Ubel basket. Nebraska led 41-24 before Central Michigan ended the half on a 9-2 run to pull within 43-33 at the break. Central Michigan shot just 42 percent in the first half, but made 14-of-18 from the foul line to stay with striking distance.
Early in the second half, Central Michigan pulled to within 50-44 with 14:54 after a Kyle Randall 3-pointer, but a Talley 3-point play helped Nebraska regain the momentum, as the Huskers used a 10-2 spurt to make it 60-46 after a Rivers free throw with 12:32 left. CMU continued to chip away behind Randall, who led all scorers with 27 points, pulling within 69-62 with 6:25 remaining, but Nebraska salted the game away as a Talley 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 surge to put Nebraska ahead 76-62 after Benny Parker's acrobatic basket.
The Huskers will play in the title game Sunday night and it will only be available on the Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com.
Around the rim
***Nebraska will play either UTEP or Arkansas Pine Bluff in the title game Sunday at 8 p.m. (Central).
***Nebraska's 89 points is the Huskers' highest total since scoring 94 on Southern Utah on Dec. 29, 2009. NU's previous season high was 79 at Wake Forest on Nov. 27.
***Nebraska matched its season best with four players in double figures, and is now 6-0 when getting at least three players in double figures.
***Rivers had a career-high with 20 points, topping his previous best of eight set against South Dakota State as a freshman. Rivers, whose previous season best was seven against Valparaiso on Nov. 15, totaled just 20 points in 19 games during his freshman season.
***Nebraska shot a season-high 57.1 percent from the floor, including 9-of-18 from 3-point range.
***Talley's third 20-point game of the season with a game-high 21 points. His six 3-pointers was career high (previous high was four at Minnesota last March.