Lincoln -- The debut of new Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles was a successful one, as the Huskers topped Southern, 66-55, in the season opener Sunday night at the Devaney Center.
Brandon Ubel paced the Big Red (1-0) with his second career double-double, totaling 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 senior forward set career bests in both points and caroms, as Nebraska shot 51.9 percent from the floor.
Ubel took over in a key second-half run, scoring nine of his points in an 11-3 Husker spurt after Southern pulled to within 31-28 in the opening minute of the half. The senior, who was NU’s only returning starter from last season, scored seven straight points, as his 3-point play gave NU a 38-28 lead.
Ubel was one of three Huskers in double figures in the victory. Junior guard Ray Gallegos, who redshirted in 2011-12, had a career-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting while Dylan Talley added 17 points and seven rebounds for Nebraska, which shot 51.9 percent from the field and held Southern to 39.6 percent shooting.
Gallegos and Talley played major roles in getting the Huskers off to a quick start, as Nebraska scored the first nine points, including four by Talley, and built a 12-2 lead after a Gallegos 3-pointer. Southern pulled to within 16-14, but Nebraska went on an 11-2 run, taking a 27-15 lead after a 3-pointer and a layup from Gallegos and took a six-point lead into the locker room.
Derick Beltran, who paced Southern (0-2) with 17 points, made it a 3-point game with a shot from long range on their first possession of the half, but the Huskers would allow one field goal over the next seven minutes and rely on Ubel to regain a cushion.
Nebraska eventually built a 16-point lead at 52-36 after a Ubel 3-point play with 8:58 remaining, but Southern would go on one last run.
The Jaguars, who were picked second in the preseason SWAC poll, used a 12-2 run to cut NU’s lead to 56-48, but would get no closer, as Ubel’s 3-point play and a Gallegos junper quickly pushed the lead back to 61-48 with 3:00 remaining, and Nebraska’s advantage would remain in double figures the rest of the way.
The win was the 1,400th in program history, while Nebraska has now won its last 12 season openers and its final 23 home openers in the Devaney Center.
The Huskers return to action Thursday evening, when they take on Valparaiso in the opening game of the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic at the Devaney Center. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and also carried on the Husker Sports Network.