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 improved to 7-3 on the season and will meet UTEP, an 83-61 winner over Arkansas Pine Bluff Sunday evening at 8 p.m. (central).
Nebraska 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 Brandon 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.
Quick Postgame Notes:
- 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's two highest point totals this season have come in game away from Lincoln.
- The 89 points against Central Michigan is Nebraska's highest total in a road or neutral site since scoring 89 in a 101-89 loss at TCU on March 15, 1999.
- 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.
- Nebraska had two players reach 20 points for the second time this season in Saturday's win (Dylan Talley, 21; David Rivers, 20). It also happened in the Huskers' win at Wake Forest.
- David 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. Rivers also had a career-high seven rebounds.
- Dylan Talley collected his 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).
- Nebraska shot a season-high 57.1 percent from the floor, including 9-of-18 from 3-point range. The Huskers shot 61 percent in the first half.
- Freshman Shavon Shields totaled six points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, as Nebraska's bench outscored Central Michigan's 28-15. It marked the second straight game NU's bench had outscored its opponents.
- The 14-point margin of victory was Nebraska's second-largest of the season (16 at Wake Forest).