Nebraska beats Wake Forest 79-63
Nebraska's Andre Almeida blocks a shot by Wake Forest's Codi Miller-McIntyre Tuesday during the first half in Winston-Salem, N.C.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Ray Gallegos didn't dwell on his frustrating performance in Nebraska's first loss of the season or on his slow start against Wake Forest on Tuesday night.
The result was a big second-half performance and a lopsided road win for the Cornhuskers.
Gallegos scored 17 of his career-high 20 points after halftime to help Nebraska beat Wake Forest 79-63 on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Andre Almeida matched his career-high with 20 points to go with a career-best 11 rebounds for the Cornhuskers (5-1). Gallegos went just 1 for 5 in the first half but hit seven straight shots after the break, helping Nebraska blow the game open and turn it into an ugly night for the Demon Deacons (3-3).
"It was just the encouragement from my teammates really," Gallegos said. "We came in here and they told me just to keep shooting and just keep being aggressive, so that's what I came out and tried to do."
Gallegos had scored at least 11 points in each of the first four games of the season before managing just three points on 1-for-9 shooting in Saturday's 74-60 home loss to Kent State.
He erased any lingering frustration from that performance by burying shot after shot in the second half against Wake Forest, helping Nebraska earn a one-sided road win despite playing just six scholarship players.
"The lesson I learned when I was an NAIA assistant coach is never get into a shooter's head," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "So I do as little as possible on the psychology. I just say, 'Keep shooting, we'll get you rhythm shots.'"
After leading just 28-24 at the break, the Huskers scored on 16 of 19 possessions to start the second half and build a 22-point lead. Gallegos had 12 points during the 20-3 run that turned it into a romp, including a pair of 3-pointers.
While Gallegos was knocking down shots from the outside, the 6-foot-11, 314-pound Almeida was frustrating the Demon Deacons in the paint. He finished 9 for 10 from the field and blocked three shots in 27 minutes.
"It builds confidence," Almeida said. "I think we were mentally tough and physically tough tonight and just did a great job."
Freshman Madison Jones scored a season-high 14 points to lead Wake Forest, an ominous sign for a team that came into the year knowing it would have to rely on senior C.J. Harris and junior Travis McKie.
Both came in averaging around 16 points, but they combined for 10 points on 3-for-17 shooting to lead a toothless effort by Wake Forest's offense. Wake Forest shot 43 percent (24 for 56), though many of its second-half shots came long after Nebraska had taken control.
"We're trying to get them the ball," Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "It is tough when they take out your two leading scorers. It puts a lot of pressure on everybody else, especially young players. ... You're not always going to shoot the ball well. You can't let it affect the rest of your game."
Gallegos' third 3-pointer started the breakaway run, then he followed with a transition layup and another 3 before losing Chase Fischer around a screen and knocking down a midrange jumper that pushed the lead to 16.
Dylan Talley (14 points) scored Nebraska's other eight points during that 20-3 run, ending the spurt with two free throws that made it 62-40 with 8:05 left. The lead reached 24 points about a minute later, and Wake Forest got no closer than 13 points again.
"We were just a step late in everything we did," Bzdelik said. "They were aggressive and we weren't."
The game was a rematch from last year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Wake Forest won that one 55-53 on Harris' layup with 3.4 seconds left.
"Y'all saw the game. They stuck it to us," Harris said. "They outhustled us, (got) offensive boards, we didn't run our offense hard. It's just a bunch of things."
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