LINCOLN, Neb. | Nebraska looked like it would win going away.
The Cornhuskers barely hung on.
Brandon Ubel scored 17 points, Ray Gallegos added 14 and Nebraska survived a late scoring drought to hold off cold-shooting Valparaiso 50-48 on Thursday night.
Afterward, first-year Nebraska coach Tim Miles said the win was as big as one gets in November for a team that is being rebuilt.
"I thought there was a spark on the team that we probably hadn't seen before," he said. "Like I told them after the game, 'We won the exhibition game and the locker room was just kind of blah. We beat Southern and the locker room was just kind of blah.' Tonight, I asked them, 'How are you feeling?' They were all charged up and I said, 'This is what you're supposed to feel.'
"It's not just about winning, either. I felt like we played all right. We have a lot to get better at, but that was a good game."
Gallegos made a career-high four 3-pointers, all of them coming during big runs that helped the Cornhuskers (2-0) build a double-digit cushion against the defending Horizon League champion Crusaders (2-1).
But after Ubel scored with 7:20 left to make it an 11-point game, the Huskers didn't get another point until Ubel's two free throws with 14.3 seconds left.
Kevin Van Wijk, who led Valparaiso with 20 points, hit two free throws to make it a two-point game in the final seconds. Matt Kenney missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"I thought for 33 minutes Nebraska pretty much dictated the game," Valpo coach Bryce Drew said. "I thought the last five to seven minutes we finally got in a rhythm and started playing offense like we have been our first couple games this year. To beat a good team like Nebraska, you have to do it for 40 minutes."
Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff, the 2011 Horizon League player of the year, was just 2 of 10 from the field and finished with eight points. He had come in averaging 17 points and shooting 55 percent on 3s.
"Nebraska guarded him very well tonight," Drew said. "Ryan is a student of the game. He'll watch and learn from it and it'll make him a better player."
Valparaiso made a game of it despite missing 10 of its first 11 3s and making just two field goals over a 13½-minute span of the first and second halves.
Miles had said before the game that he was worried about his team's ability to defend Valparaiso's 3-point shooting. The Crusaders made 13 of 24 shots beyond the arc in each of their first two games.
The Crusaders were just 2 of 15 from long distance against the Huskers, who pressured the perimeter. Valpo shot 34 percent for the game.
The Huskers, who shot 37 percent, trailed most of the first half until going on a 16-4 run the last nine minutes of the first half to go up 28-22.
Miles said he had been worried about how his team would play because of disjointed practices leading up to the game. A few players also have been sick.
"It kind of felt like a team that was unsure," Miles said. "At halftime, they didn't feel like a team that was unsure. I didn't think they played like a team that was unsure. I thought we were aggressive and we did a lot of good things."
Nebraska scored its fewest points since a 50-44 win over Oregon State on Dec. 12, 2009. Valparaiso's total was its lowest total in 29 games, since Ohio State held the Crusaders to 47 on Nov. 25, 2011.
The game was part of the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic, a seven-team, 11-day event honoring the Huskers' coach from 1963-80.