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Nebrasketball: Hoiberg Living Large on Island Time - Beating Washington State For Third Straight Win

Hoiberg and the Huskers won their third straight, beating Wazzu in the Cayman Islands.

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The Huskers, off to a hot and cold start to begin Fred Hoiberg’s first season in Lincoln, traveled to the Cayman islands to take on the Washington State Cougars.

What fans are (probably) dubbing the “Battle of Bill Moos”, was broadcast exclusively on FloHoops. The Cougars are also with a first-year head coach and sitting at 2-2, including one of those losses to Omaha.

The Huskers are hoping that Nebraskan teams are the Cougars’ kryptonite. Both teams have struggled to shoot the ball this season, especially from behind the line. Nebraska is hitting around 30% of their threes, with Washington State a little lower at 27%.

The first half tipped off and started with a reverse of that script, as Washington State hit a quick three-pointer off of a Nebraska turnover. Nebraska responded with a quick 10-2 run, powered by five points and two rebounds from Haanif Cheatham. Cougars hit a three to trim the lead to 10-8 at the U16 timeout.

A back-and-forth until Dachon Burke hit his second three-pointer of the game to put Nebraska at their largest lead of six, up 20-14. Washington State, again, responded by the media timeout just under ten minutes, as the Huskers found themselves only up 23-14.

The Cougars went on to take the lead with point number 13 from CJ Elleby, as Wazzou went up 26-25 with eight minutes to go, their first lead since 3-2 at the beginning of the game.

Remember how Nebraska would have scoring droughts often with Tim Miles? The tradition isn’t totally dead, and it reared it’s head, just as they lost the lead. The Huskers didn’t score for over three minutes, and by then found themselves on the other side of a six-point lead, down 31-25, until Kevin Cross got his seventh point with under six minutes to go.

A back-and-forth saw that six-point lead return for the Cougars on a fourth (out of 11 tries) three-pointer of the half, with four minutes to go.

Those final four minutes saw a lot of misses, with the only makes going to Cam Mack at the free throw line and a Cross jumper. Huskers trail 37-34 at the break.

The second half started with the Huskers’ scoring being matched right back by the Cougars, until Jervay Green scored five straight to give the Huskers their first lead of the second half, and first of the game since the eight minute mark of the first half.

A couple of free throws from Burke and another three from Green, to put him at ten points, gave the Huskers a 46-42 lead. That would be extended to a game-high seven point lead with under 14 minutes to go thanks to a free throw from Mack.

But CJ Elleby wouldn’t let them go quietly. He went for an and-one to get to 19 points and cut that back down to a four-point lead. But, in trying to lead his team back, he had the ball stolen by Mack, his second steal, who dished it to Matej Kavas, which gave Mack his fifth assist. A Cheatham lay-up put the Huskers up eight with under 13 to go.

Cheatham kept that lead there with a three-pointer two minutes later. The Huskers found themselves with a 16-point lead three minutes later, thanks to Kevin Cross’ three-pointer.

CJ Elleby continued to kill the Huskers, with a dunk to give him 25, but the Huskers continued to respond. That is, until the Cougars pulled it back to 11 with four minutes to go.

Cross came out of the timeout and scored to give him 14, and the Huskers did not look back. The Cougars tested the Huskers free throw ability (13-25 on the night), but they came out victorious.

Elleby led all scorers with 27, while the Huskers had five players in double figures, with Cheatham leading the way with 19. Biggest difference in the game was behind the arc, where the Huskers shot suprisingly-well 9-18, while WSU kept trending down from three, going 6-27.

The Huskers will take on George Mason, looking to win their fourth straight and stay undefeated outside the continental United States.