With a smile as wide as the Chicago River, the seventh-year head coach turned to a group of local reporters and said, "See you boys tomorrow!"
Nebraska defeated Rutgers, 68-61, and will play the Maryland Terrapins on Thursday in the second round.
It's a great time to be a Nebraska Basketball fan right about now.
In the win over the Terrapins, Nebraska's lead scorer was James Palmer with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists. Most of Fernando's teammates occupied themselves on their phones, but those screens probably provided little distraction from the reality that they had just played 40 deflating minutes of postseason basketball, losing to a shorthanded team they beat twice during the regular season.
Maryland is 2-5 in the Big Ten tournament since it joined the conference for the 2014-15 season.
While Nebraska didn't make its first field goal until the 15:46 mark, its defense kept the game in control to start. As a team, Maryland committed seven turnovers and shot just 29.2 percent from the field, scoring just 20 points in the first 20 minutes.
The first-half stats were head-scratching considering Nebraska led, 26-25, despite shooting 34.5 percent to Rutgers' 52.6 percent. That would eventually turn into a 13-2 run capped by a Roby layup. James Palmer Jr.'s hair held beads of water. Palmer Jr. had 20 points, Watson Jr. had 18 points and Roby had 14 points at this point.
In the win over the Buckeyes, Wisconsin's lead scorer was Khalil Iverson with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
"We just had a bad game", Fernando said.
The 13th-seeded Cornhuskers advanced to a second-round game against fifth-seeded Maryland on Thursday at 3 p.m. EDT - or 25 minutes after the Thursday opener between IN and Ohio State at 12:30 p.m.
"(Miles) told us even yesterday, coming in with a free mind, we can do it", Watson said. They had just seven scholarship players available and eight total because of injuries. "We were just ready to come to play today". Maryland finally trimmed the lead to eight with just under four minutes to go and then to six with two minutes left. That led to two Watson free throws and an And-1 by Roby that put NU up 51-37. He scored 19 points without checking out against Maryland.
But after a clutch offensive rebound by walk-on Johnny Trueblood led to a 3-pointer by Palmer and then Trueblood followed with a layup, it put NU up by 10 with 55 seconds to play.
"I just know we've got to be better", Cowan said. "It's an important mentality, and they've got it". Fernando, usually a dominant force, scored a season-low three points on 1-for-4 shooting. But Miles said the team has played with cohesion both days to execute the game plan. "We just never had it". So we're playing loose and playing free, but we're focused. "It's a good time to be focused, and it's a good time to play as hard as we're playing". Maryland was ranked as the 21st overall team in the regular season. The next time Maryland loses, the season will be over. The Terrapins had found some energy, and shots started to fall. That stat line wasn't lost on the Huskers after the game. However, this Nebraska basketball team has showed resiliency, toughness, and the willingness to go all-out in the Big Ten tournament.
"We didn't make them pay for what they were doing", Turgeon said. "I don't know if he wasn't expecting it or he wasn't ready, but we were ready from the tip".
Nebraska's win on Thursday was one of epic proportions.
He was still upright after Thursday's game.
"I think he's got his son's spring game, and you what, I'd want to be there for my son's spring game, too", Miles said.