LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Fred Hoiberg was pleased he got his first win at Nebraska, but he was happier with how his Cornhuskers played in building a 31-point first half lead on the way to defeating South Dakota State 90-73.
“It sure beats what happens in the other two,” Hoiberg said. “It’s great to get that first one.”
The Huskers got the win for the first-year coach by playing at the high tempo that has characterized Hoiberg’s teams at Iowa State and the Chicago Bulls.
“To come out here and establish the tempo and the pace where we wanted to have it is an important thing in a game like this,” Hoiberg said. “We allowed them to dictate tempo in the second half. But for us, especially in that first half, it was a thing of beauty.”
That thing was flying up the floor. It was fun for fans to watch.
Nebraska (1-2) struggled to score its first two games, but came out hot, hitting 60 percent of its shots in the first 15 minutes of the game. South Dakota State (3-2) hit just one of its first 10 shots, falling behind 12-2 when Nebraska’s Haanif Cheatam hit a fast-break layup five minutes into the game.
The Huskers put the game out of reach with a 19-2, four-minute run, to lead 45-14 on Yvan Ouedraogo’s putback layup with 4:50 left in the half.
Nebraska led by 24 at halftime. South Dakota State trailed by at least 20 until midway through the second half and got no closer than the 17-point final margin.
“Coach really preached on pace,” Dachon Burke said. “Nobody in the country can run with us. We picked it up and got the win.”
Nebraska improved its shooting percentage over the first two games, hitting 49% of its shots, and outrebounded its opponent for the first time this season.
“We were definitely in tune,” said Cam Mack, who led Nebraska with a career-high 24 points. “I like where we are now. But we have to keep going for sure, for sure.”
South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson said his team needs to learn a lesson from the loss
“What we can learn is we have to play a full 40 minutes,” Henderson said. “You have to be ready from the tip and ready to compete and fight, especially on the road against a team as hungry as Nebraska was to get a win. You have to have a high level of compete for 40 minutes, and I thought we did for moments, especially in the second half.”
Burke and Cheatam had 17 points each for Nebraska. Kevin Cross scored 10.
Douglas Wilson had 15 points to lead South Dakota State. Brandon Key had 12 points and Trey Buchanan had 11 points.
South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits looked like a tired team playing their third road game in a week. They had traveled to California for a double-overtime win against CSU Bakersfield and a loss to USC on Tuesday before coming to Lincoln Friday.
Nebraska: The Huskers scored just 47 points in their season opening loss to UC Riverside. They had 51 at the half Friday. The win allowed Nebraska to avoid its first 0-3 start since the 1980-81 season.
South Dakota State hosts North Alabama on Tuesday.
Nebraska hosts Southern University on Friday.