STORRS, Conn. — Michigan freshman Stu Douglass did everything he could. But his six 3-pointers weren’t enough tonight inside Gampel Pavilion, as the Wolverines fell 69-61 to No. 1 Connecticut.
Michigan (5-6 Big Ten, 15-9 overall) didn’t back down to its biggest and most athletic opponent of the season.
The Huskies (10-1 Big East, 22-1 overall) used a full-court press for most of the game, but the Wolverines committed just 10 turnovers on the night. Despite Connecticut’s best efforts to speed up the pace of the game, Michigan controlled the tempo for much of the night.
The Wolverines even led 34-33 at the half before the Huskies took the lead for good with less than 13 minutes remaining.
Despite the loss, it was Michigan’s best effort of the year — it had to be.
Douglass led the way, shooting 6-for-8 from behind the arc for a career-high 20 points. Sophomore Manny Harris scored 15 on just 5-of-16 shooting but dished out five assists against a speedy Husky defense.
Connecticut was coming off a 17-point win at No. 5 Louisville and features a Naismith Player of the Year candidate in 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet. The junior had 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks tonight.
Thabeet and senior Jeff Adrien anchor the Husky paint, but Michigan didn’t back down. Before picking up two fouls, Michigan junior DeShawn Sims scored six points inside in the first 20 minutes. And redshirt junior Zack Gibson did all that he could to contain Thabeet, battling in the post and grabbing four rebounds in 21 minutes.
Michigan can take some positives from its loss, but it was very close to being a blowout.
Connecticut jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first two minutes and the Husky faithful went nuts. But Gibson knocked down a 3-pointer to calm the Wolverines. From then on, Michigan played like it belonged.
And it must take that same attitude back to Ann Arbor, where it hosts Michigan State on Tuesday.