Bloomington, Ind. — There was a much different atmosphere inside Assembly Hall on Tuesday night.
Gone were Bob Knight and the red sweater. Instead, it was new coach Mike Davis in a suit and tie.
A new era of Indiana basketball began with an 80-68 victory over Pepperdine in the opening round of the Preseason NIT.
But there was a very different aura surrounding this game, Indiana's first without Knight as head coach in 29 years.
"It's different, everybody that's here I'm sure loved Coach (Knight)," said Todd Lindeman, a former player. "It's a different feeling, but I'm here to watch the players."
A little more than two months after Knight, the fifth-winningest coach in Division I history and the man who led the Hoosiers to three national championships, was fired for violating the university's "zero-tolerance" policy, Indiana started anew.
And the Hoosiers unveiled a more up-tempo style.
The result was five turnovers in its first seven possessions, but Indiana recovered and beat Pepperdine at its own game, leading 40-36 at and then using an 11-0 run midway through the second half to build a 67-51 lead and pull away.
Kirk Haston led the Hoosiers by matching his career-high with 28 points.
But Knight and his legacy were far from forgotten Tuesday night.
The Hoosiers were in the Preseason NIT, a tournament Knight long revered, playing Pepperdine, the team that handed Indiana a 20-point loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March in what turned out to be his final game as the Hoosiers coach.
Fans wore T-shirts emblazoned across the front with "Hoosier Daddy Now?" a reference to an incident in which Knight criticized the Northwestern band for shouting "Who's your daddy?" at the Hoosiers bench two seasons ago, and across the back with "Goodnight General The Day A Legend Died: Sept. 10, 2000."
Some of the changes were obvious, though.
"What will be new is looking over there and not seeing a red sweater, not watching him walk across the floor with about 30 seconds left, not watching him walk over to the other coach and getting him laughing," said Don Fischer, the Hoosiers' radio voice for all but two of Knight's seasons.
"I will miss some things about Coach Knight being here, I'm sure about that. But this is a whole new era starting, and it's something to be excited about, too."
Even if it didn't appear that way initially.
Assembly Hall, which is usually filled near capacity, was not. In fact, about 6,000 tickets remained unsold Tuesday morning.
Knight, however, was nowhere to be found Tuesday night. Instead, he was on a hunting trip in Spain with King Juan Carlos, retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and former President George Bush.