Nebraska's Brandon Ubel shoots over Northwestern's Mike Turner during the first half Saturday. | Matt Ryerson~AP
Updated: January 26, 2013 5:42PM
LINCOLN, Neb. — Some extra work paid off for Ray Gallegos.
Gallegos, who has struggled with his shot since Big Ten play began, made three 3-pointers in a row in the second half Saturday to help Nebraska pull away from Northwestern for a 64-49 victory.
The Cornhuskers (11-10, 2-6 Big Ten) won for the first time in four conference home games and posted their largest margin of victory of the season.
Gallegos had made only 14 of 64 shots from beyond the arc in Nebraska’s first seven Big Ten games. So he stayed a half-hour after practice Friday for extra shooting, and he showed up to the Devaney Center almost seven hours before Saturday’s tip-off to shoot some more.
“Nobody is harder on himself than Ray,” coach Tim Miles said. “I get here this morning at 8 and he’s got a full sweat going. There’s a young guy who is working, and I’m so happy to see that success the second half. When he made his first one, he kind of hung that follow-through extra long, and that’s good. I know if we can get him good looks, he’ll make them.”
Gallegos, scoreless in the first half, missed his first two 3-pointers of the second. He broke through after he stole the ball from Dave Sobolewski to give Nebraska a 38-31 lead. His third 3, less than 3 minutes later, gave the Huskers their first double-digit lead.
After missing 6 of 7 from long range against Illinois on Tuesday, he ended up 3 of 8 on 3s and finished with 11 points.
“I didn’t really stress that much,” Gallegos said. “I guess as a shooter, you’re always going to have nights where you’re hitting. The last couple games I’ve been pretty off. My mind set was to get here, get up extra shots and get a rhythm going again, and eventually it’s going to fall. And it did tonight, second half.”
Dylan Talley scored 20 points and had eight rebounds and two steals for the Huskers. Brandon Ubel added 14 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
The win was timely for a Nebraska team that visits No. 12 Minnesota on Tuesday before facing No. 14 Ohio State at home next Saturday.
“The fact Northwestern went to Illinois and won and then beat Minnesota, that’s a quality win for us,” Miles said. “And it maybe shows our guys that if we do it right and hang in there, we can do this.”
Sobolewski matched his season high with 21 points and Jared Swopshire had 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to pace the Wildcats (12-9, 3-5), who were coming off a seven-point win over Minnesota.
“I don’t think it had to do with us not coming ready to play or not taking Nebraska seriously,” Sobolewski said. “We knew what Nebraska was capable of — good team, a lot of good players, balanced team, balanced scoring. We came out knowing that if we didn’t come to play, that they could beat us. If a couple shots had fallen in the first half, it could have been a different story.”
Ubel made two free throws and converted Gallegos’ pass through the lane into a dunk at the front end of a 16-7 spurt that gave Nebraska a double-digit lead in the middle of the second half. Gallegos followed Shavon Shields’ three-point play with three straight 3s to make it 44-33.
Gallegos put the Huskers up 52-37 after he took Ubel’s pass off a steal and drove the length of the court for a dunk. Talley’s jump shot and layup stretched it to 16 points.
The teams scuffled through the first half, with Nebraska shooting 37 percent and Northwestern 32 percent from the field.
Nebraska, not bothered when the Wildcats went to a 1-3-1 zone, warmed up to 54 percent in the second half and finished at 45 percent. Northwestern stayed cold and ended the game at 32 percent. The Wildcats’ only worse shooting performance this season was 29 percent in a 20-point loss to Iowa.
The Huskers took the lead for good when Talley snaked through the lane for a layup and Benny Parker stole Alex Olah’s lazy pass and went in for a layup to make it 15-11.
Sobolewski’s 3-pointer cut it to 24-22 at halftime, but the Huskers went on their decisive run after the first media timeout of the second half. It was Nebraska’s first home win since Dec. 29 against Nicholls State.
“It was nice to see the Devaney fans leave with a smile on their face,” Miles said.