BLOOMINGTON-Mike Davis says he hasn't watched any replays of last year's last-second, buzzer-beating loss to Charlotte, but he knows what the loss probably meant to his team.
"That game probably cost us an NCAA bid," Davis said.
When Brendan Plavich's disputed halfcourt heave found the bottom of the net last Dec. 22 at Assembly Hall, it handed the Hoosiers their sixth straight defeat and put them in a 2-6 hole that they were never able to extract themselves from. Indiana did go 10-6 in league play and finish in a tie for fourth in the Big Ten, but that still didn't prove to be enough to earn the Hoosiers an at-large NCAA bid.
Adding insult to injury was a series of postgame revelations about Plavich's shot. It was later discovered that when reviewing the basket, officials were viewing ESPN's super-imposed clock and not the actual game clock when determining whether or not Plavich had successfully gotten the shot off in 0.7 seconds.
While not necessarily admitting to any errors, in the aftermath of the disputed contest the Big Ten required the television clock and the official game clock to be synched up before every game and then again at several specified points during the game to make sure a similar situation doesn't arise again. But that did little to ease IU's pain from the six-game losing streak, its longest in 37 years.
Ultimately, it likely cost Indiana the win and possibly its spot as an at-large team in the NCAA tourney. That's a fact not lost on Davis, who wouldn't mind erasing that memory with a win when his 18th-ranked Hoosiers travel to Charlotte Monday for a 9 p.m. contest.
"We haven't forgotten about it," said Davis. "At the same time it wasn't anything Charlotte did…it was (the officials) looking at the wrong clock."
Publicly, Davis insists that the real motivation for Monday's meeting isn't revenge, but rather the opportunity to get a coveted victory away from Assembly Hall. Indiana is currently 1-1 on the road and 2-1 away from Assembly Hall, and the NCAA Selection Committee has often spoken to the fact it places a great deal of emphasis on how teams do when they play in either hostile or neutral settings. Indiana was only 3-11 last season when playing away from Assembly Hall, a fact that likely had as much to do with IU missing out on the NCAAs last spring as the Charlotte loss.
"It's a game that we want to win because it's a road game," said Davis. "The way they set things up this year and last year with the NCAA, if you go and win road games, it gives you more points.
"It's a game we want to win in the worst way."
Indiana will be going up against a Charlotte team that has struggled to a 5-4 start. That includes a recent loss to Valparaiso and a pair of woeful offensive efforts in setbacks to Northwestern (61-47) and Mississippi State (53-38).
The wins, meanwhile, haven't been much more impressive. Charlotte had to go two overtimes to beat Davidson, and it escaped with five-point wins over both Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia State.
But Davis expects a much better effort from the 49ers when the Hoosiers arrive in town.
"They're talented," said Davis. "It's ging to be a tough game because they'll be jacked up for us."
Charlotte is anchored by 6-8, 246-pound Curtis Withers, a two-time first-team All-Conference USA pick, who is averaging 15.7 points and 10.4 rebounds. He'll get plenty of support from 6-5, 227-pound wing DeAngelo Alexander, a transfer from Oklahoma who is averaging a team-best 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds.
"They are struggling now, not sure why," said Davis. "But they are an excellent team when you look on paper. They have Curtis Withers who I think is one of the top 10 players in the country. DeAngelo Alexander, transfer from Oklahoma, leads them in scoring.
"They are fast and athletic…This game is going to be a lot tougher than the Indiana State game was for us."
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