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Indiana Set To Play Without Knight

Updated:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ Indiana will take the floor without Bob Knight as coach for the first time in 29 years.

An era that produced three national championships and 11 Big Ten titles ended in September when Knight was fired for violating the zero-tolerance policy the school had established for him.

Mike Davis will be coaching the Hoosiers when they play Pepperdine in the opening round of the Preseason NIT on Tuesday night.

It was Pepperdine that thrashed Indiana in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March in what turned out to be Knight's last game as Indiana's coach.

``It was horrible, it was a nightmare for us,'' swingman Dane Fife said. ``It probably was as low as I've ever felt in my college career. We owe Pepperdine.''

Pepperdine forced 21 turnovers, built an early lead and never gave Indiana a chance to catch up. All-American A.J. Guyton was held to three points, all on first-half free throws.

The 77-57 loss was Indiana's second worst in the NCAA tournament, with the 86-61 loss to St. John's the previous year the worst.

Fife, center Kirk Haston and sophomore forward Jeffrey Newton each had at least 17 starts last season. But Davis, an assistant to Knight, will have five players making their college debuts when he makes his head coaching debut.

``I'm a little afraid of Pepperdine, to tell you the truth,'' Davis said. ``Last year, they were pretty good, and we just want to make sure we're ready to play against them with our press attack.''

Pepperdine lost three starters from the team that lost to Oklahoma State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Waves' leading returner scorer is all-conference guard Brandon Armstrong.

Haston injured his knee two minutes into the Pepperdine game and didn't return. Haston, a preseason all-Big Ten selection, said he has completely recovered from offseason surgery.

``Who's to say if I was out there, that maybe they could have gotten me the ball and maybe A.J. would have gotten more than three shots?'' Haston said. ``Nobody really stepped in and gave us an inside presence that night.''

That shouldn't be a problem this time.

The Hoosiers list five players who are at least 6-foot-9, and the group is more athletic than Indiana frontlines of recent years.

But Indiana most likely will start one freshman _ forward Jared Jeffries _ and rely on two others _ guards A.J. Moye and Andre Owens _ to handle the Waves' pressure defense.

But there's no experienced point guard.

``One thing that's really good about our offense is that we don't really need a point guard calling out one play,'' Haston said. ``The thing we've got to have is somebody or two people to get the ball down the floor.''

Indiana, however, has struggled with that facet during its exhibition games.

On Friday, against Marathon, which possesses nowhere near the quickness of Pepperdine, the Hoosiers committed 22 turnovers.

``If we do that, we're going to get hammered by Pepperdine,'' Fife said following Friday's game. ``I thought it was pretty ugly.''

But the Hoosiers have no intention of allowing things to get ugly against the Waves this time.

``Our job is to come out and beat people and play up to our capabilities,'' Fife said. ``I think we're ready, and I think we're a better team than we were then.''

In any case, it will be a team with a new coach.

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