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Southern at Nebraska men, 11.22

Nebraska’s men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg reacts to a foul being called Friday against Southern at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Jervay Green said what everyone was thinking.

"I'm looking forward to the beach," the junior forward said when asked what part of Nebraska's trip to the Cayman Islands he was most excited about.

No doubt the fine sand and sparkling blue waters surrounding Grand Cayman will be a big draw for the Huskers this week as they play in the Cayman Islands Classic. NU has already spent plenty of time on or near the water after taking a direct charter flight from Lincoln to the Caribbean paradise.

But there's basketball to play, too — important basketball for a team four games into trying to establish an identity. 

Nebraska will play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. First up is Washington State at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

"We’re just looking to get back on the floor. Obviously tonight was great, and we just want to keep this winning streak going," Green said after Nebraska got past Southern on Friday in overtime.

For the first time this season, Nebraska will play games on back-to-back nights. Through NU's first four contests, the team has had four, six and seven days off. The long breaks between the first few games weren't intentional, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said last week. It was more a product of the coaching staff having a limited amount of time to get games after putting the roster together.

Quick turnarounds and attention to detail in scouting reports can be difficult for even the most experienced and talented teams early in the season.

Nebraska will now try to work out those kinks while playing away from Lincoln for the first time.

"I’m just looking to continue to take steps in the right direction. Hopefully continue to get better. We’ll be playing some good opponents, and we haven’t had this stretch where we’ve played a lot of games in a short amount of time," Hoiberg said. "And when we get back, to have the three road games — at Georgia Tech, at Creighton and at Indiana — the schedule’s going to be a monster.

"So this hopefully will prepare us for that. But again, we’ve just got to take it one game at a time, one possession at a time."

In Washington State, the Huskers will see a team much in their own image. After years languishing as one of the worst power-conference programs in the country under Ernie Kent, who was hired by current NU athletic director Bill Moos, the Cougars made a coaching change and brought in former San Francisco head man Kyle Smith.

And while Smith didn't turn his roster over like Hoiberg did, the Cougars (2-2) have had some of the same growing pains as Nebraska. There are losses to mid-major programs Santa Clara and Omaha, with a pair of buy-game wins. Like Nebraska, Washington State will be playing its first high-major opponent Monday.

None of that really concerns Hoiberg, though, who has enough to worry about in getting his own team to play a complete 40 minutes. Nebraska blew leads of nine and 14 points in its two losses, and led Southern by 13 before trailing by eight and then eventually winning in overtime.

"Just continuing to go out and build the right habits," Hoiberg said. "And whether things are going great or whether you’re having a tough time, you have to be constant in your approach."

It just so happens this week the approach also includes avoiding a sunburn.

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Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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