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Breakdown: Trojans Ice Cold in Nebraska, Fall 63-51

USC goes more than 10 minutes without scoring while Nebraska's Ray Gallegos poured in six 3-pointers.

Dylan Tally didn't shoot well, but knocked down a dagger late.
Dylan Tally didn't shoot well, but knocked down a dagger late.
Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE


Key moment: JT Terrell knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:27 remaining in the first half to tie the game 25-25. USC did not make another field goal for more than 40 minutes of real time with the halftime break (10 minutes and 37 seconds of game time). Nebraska outscored the Trojans 19-3 during the drought and never really looked back.

"We haven’t been making shots all year," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said after the game. "We have fewer turnovers than our opponents, more rebounds; we just haven’t been shooting the ball well."

The Trojans' poor shooting allowed the Huskers pushed the lead to as many as 20. Nebraska won 63-51 to move to 6-1 on the season while USC fell to 3-4.

Player of the game: Ray Gallegos. Gallegos basically took the first 16 minutes of the game off. He took and missed two shots as USC keyed on him defensively. But after Gallegos made his first bucket with 4:01 remaining in the first half, he began to pour it in. He finished the first half on a personal 11-3 run, including scoring the final eight points of the half after the score had been tied 25-25.

"What Ray Gallegos did at the end of the first half was probably the difference of the game; it stretched it out," O'Neill said. "We were up four I think late in the first half and then he went on that tirade of shots that gave them a good boost."

The run gave Nebraska all the momentum heading into halftime, which it carried over the break thanks to Gallegos staying hot and USC's putrid shooting. Gallegos repeatedly found just enough space to fire up deep threes that splashed down through the net without ever coming close to grazing the rim. He finished with 20 points, making six 3-pointers.

Most Spectacular Play: The Trojans struggled offensively all night, but they put together a small run late in the second half to trim the lead from 20 down to 12. A comeback seemed unlikely but possible until Gallegos hit a 3-pointer and on the next possession, Nebraska leading scorer, Dylan Tally, got the ball on the right side of the key with the shot clock winding down.

He seemed oblivious to the dwindling time despite the countdown chant from the home crowd. Upon recognizing he was going to have to heave a shot, Tally stepped back and fired up a fadeaway rainmaker. Having a defender draped all over and also a post player jumping toward him didn't matter. Tally's shot arched through the night and touched down through the net with the painful dagger to the USC heart.

"That was just lucky. I heard everyone counting down," Talley said. "I just stepped back and I threw it up."

Unsung Hero: James Blasczyk. There was only one USC player that stood out against Nebraska (and possibly only because of the ineptitude of others at his position). That was center James Blasczyk. He finished with only four points in eight minutes on 2-of-3 shooting. He grabbed a board and had an assist, but he did what the other post players failed to do by finishing at the rim. Whereas Omar Oraby traveled twice and had his only field goal attempt blocked, JB knocked down both his layups when Jio Fontan was able to get into the lane and draw a crowd.

"Step It Up:" The difference in this year's team was supposed to be USC's playmaking ability, particularly at the guard position. Instead, the guard play has floundered in the bowels of inconsistency. The starting trio of JT Terrell, Byron Wesley and Fontan led the Trojans with 14, 12 and 11 points, but it took 33 shots. The guards weren't able to get the post players sufficiently involved as starters Dewayne Dedmon and Eric Wise attempted only five field goal attempts.

Key stat: 11-for-17. Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said his team struggled to get the ball into its post players due to USC's length and quickness. Instead the Huskers just resorted to launching the deep ball and they did it quite successfully knocking down 11 of their 17 three-point attempts. Gallegos led the way going 6-for-10 on the night.

"Any time you shoot 11-17 from the three-point line, you are going to be difficult to beat," O'Neill said.

Where They Stand: The Trojans definitely aren't where they want to be through the first seven games. At 3-4 and having lost four of five, USC's season could be at an early impasse. The Trojans travel to No. 18 New Mexico (8-0) on Wednesday and then face off with No. 14 Minnesota (8-1) at home this weekend. If the Trojans go 0-3, the transfer train could be derailed before it even has a chance to get going.