GAME NOTES: Seeking redemption following a double-digit loss earlier in the week, the 22nd-ranked Michigan Wolverines return home to tangle with the Huskies of Houston Baptist.
Houston Baptist is currently two games under .500 on the season (3-5), but the team is currently riding high after winning its last two games. The Huskies slipped past visiting Rice the last time out, 73-71, and that came on the heels of a 74-72 overtime triumph at Army. Following this contest, HBU will play three more non-league tilts before kicking off Southland Conference play at Oral Roberts on Jan. 2, 2014.
Michigan opened the season at 4-1, but has stumbled in two of its last three, including the aforementioned setback at Duke (79-69) as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night. The Wolverines also have losses to Iowa State and Charlotte on their resume', and they'll be tested a couple more times before lifting the lid on their Big Ten Conference slate at Minnesota on Jan. 2, 2014, with back-to-back bouts against Pac-12 foes Arizona and Stanford in the coming weeks.
Michigan won the only previous meeting between these two teams, taking a 77-55 decision at home on Nov. 20, 2009.
The Huskies are a below average offensive team, netting 65.5 ppg in hitting 42.2 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 33 percent effort from 3-point range. The team has only two double-digit scorers in Rob Lewis (13.4 ppg) and Tyler Russell (11.5 ppg), although Cody Joyce (9.8 ppg) is close to joining the ranks. Defensively, HBU is giving up 73.8 ppg, with foes shooting 41.4 percent from the floor, 32.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 68.1 percent from the foul line. Turnovers have hurt the team time and time again, as the Huskies are guilty of 16.1 miscues per outing. Lewis and Marcel Smith scored 16 points apiece to lead Houston Baptist to the narrow win over Rice last time out. The Huskies shot 48.1 percent from the floor compared to 44.9 percent for the Owls.
Caris LeVert scored 24 points and Mitch McGary logged a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, but those efforts went for naught as the Wolverines dropped a 10-point decision at Duke earlier this week. Michigan made good on only 3-of-13 3-point attempts, while allowing the Blue Devils to connect on 50 percent of their total shots. Duke turned the ball over only seven times, and won the battle in bench points, 18-11. Despite the lackluster effort against what was a formidable opponent, the Wolverines are putting up 77 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .443 overall, .356 from beyond the arc, and .736 from the charity stripe. The team's defensive effort yields an average of 63.2 ppg, while logging positive margins in both rebounding (+5.8) and turnovers (+2.9). Nik Stauskas (18.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg) paces the unit, and joins LeVert (15.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg) as UM's top 3-poin shooters (combined 33-of-77, .429). Glenn Robinson III (11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) rounds out the double-digit scorers, while guys like McGary (9.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Derrick Walton, Jr. (8.6 ppg, 3.0 apg) have been productive as well.
Simply put ... expect the Wolverines to right the ship against a team they should beat rather handily.