Cam Mack

Cam Mack filled the stat sheet with 5 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.

LINCOLN — This year will be full of flashes, and maybe flashes only.

It may not be pretty, but those Iowa State Fred Hoiberg years may poke their head through occasionally and spark hope.

And at points in Nebraska’s 91-63 exhibition win over Doane on Wednesday night, the Hoiberg offense made a visit.

In a two-minute span, Kevin Cross rolled off a pick and Cam Mack found him on a no-look pass for a lay in at the block. Thorir Thorbjarnarson cut backdoor and Mack threw another no-look for a bucket, then copied the same move with the same guy on the next possession. Haanif Cheatham took an outlet pass coast-to-coast with a Eurostep and-1 to go up 37-15 after a rough start.

It ended up as a 28-point win of game zero to start the Hoiberg era, a game in which Nebraska — undersized in a bulky Big Ten —struggled to shoot but was saved by muscling 54 points in the paint against the NAIA Division II squad.

Nebraska will open the real season Tuesday at home against UC Riverside.

Despite shooting 8 for 28 from 3 and falling into a 10-2 hole early, Wednesday was what Hoiberg wanted to see.

“For the first time out in front of the fans, I was pleased for the most part with our approach,” Hoiberg said.

Junior college transfer Cam Mack filled the stat sheet with five points, seven rebounds and eight assists with one turnover. Freshman Samari Curtis added 12 points and Kevin Cross recorded a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds).

Dachon Burke scored a team-high 15 points, including eight straight to start the second half.

“Me, personally, I was a little nervous,” Burke said in his first game in nearly 18 months after transferring from Robert Morris.

He wasn’t alone.

Nebraska was slow out of the gate, missing 6 of 8 shots and four straight 3-pointers. Doane took a 10-2 lead and it took five minutes for Nebraska to go up 11-10 on a Mack free throw.

Mack, as fast of a point guard as Hoiberg has seen, changed the pace of the game. And as Nebraska sped up, Doane was left in the dust.

A 26-3 run led to a 43-24 lead, which Doane never recovered from.

“Definitely nerves, first game, first exhibition, people coming to see us play,” Mack said. “But once we got it out, we started rolling.”

Every team in college basketball morphs and changes throughout the season. But this one is just getting off the ground, just figuring out each other’s habits. And that was on full display.

Matej Kavas missed Jervay Green on an alley-oop and threw it out of bounds, one of Nebraska’s 17 turnovers. NU didn’t score for more than four minutes at one point and looked like a team still finding a groove.

“Doesn’t matter the level — Division I, Division II, NAIA, when you have a new group that’s never been in anything together, it’s not gonna be pretty,” Doane coach Ian McKeithen, who is also dealing with a young team.

But Hoiberg — once visibly frustrated each time he spoke publicly about his team — sees progress.

“The last two weeks, we’ve seen tremendous growth in a lot of areas, it’s starting to click a little bit,” Hoiberg said.

Shot selection was nearly exactly what he wanted. All but three shots were either from 3-point range or in the paint. The team was engaged in huddles, it responded to the early deficit.

But games that count for the record begin Tuesday. Riverside comes to town Tuesday to kick off the year, and though the Highlanders were 10-23 last year, it’s real.

“Things get serious,” Mack said. “For real for real.”

Wednesday felt like a test drive. Driving the car around the track is one thing. Driving it on the road is another, which Nebraska will do next week.

Hoiberg left the locker room about four minutes before tip off, and was hit with a reminder of his grandfather, Jerry Bush, who once had this job.

Tuesday, he’ll officially step into his family’s footsteps. The first step for Hoiberg back into the college game. The first step for this young team, a cherub of a squad, wide-eyed and curious for what lies ahead.

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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