Between dates with two of the nation's top teams, Michigan would appear to have a good chance at bouncing back from its latest defeat.
The No. 22 Wolverines hope to do so while trying for a 31st straight home victory over an unranked non-conference opponent when they meet Houston Baptist on Saturday.
Though leading scorer Nik Stauskas was back after sitting out a game with an ankle injury, the star sophomore guard missed both of his field-goal attempts and finished with four made free throws in Tuesday's 79-69 loss at 10th-ranked Duke. Michigan (5-3) missed 17 of its first 21 shots and went 3 of 13 from 3-point range overall during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge event.
The Blue Devils' aggressive defense proved too much early for Stauskas (18.0 points per game) and the Wolverines, who shot 57 percent in the second half but got no closer than six points in the final 20 minutes.
"It was a great (defensive) plan," said Michigan coach John Beilein, whose team has dropped two of three. "We just have to learn from it. They're guarding you and you made mistakes. Against a really good team, you miss and you don't always get the ball back."
Beilein wasn't sure if Stauskas' rough night stemmed more from his injury or Duke's strong perimeter defense. Stauskas averaged 22.6 points on 53.1 percent shooting, 48.6 from 3-point range, in his previous five contests.
"We'll find out," said Beilein, who did get season highs of 15 points and 14 rebounds from sophomore forward Mitch McGary.
If Stauskas struggles again Saturday, Beilein will look for sophomore guard Caris LeVert to continue his strong play. Second on the team with 15.1 points per game, LeVert matched a career high by scoring 20 of his 24 points while making 6 of 13 shots in the second half against the Blue Devils.
"He keeps going everyday," Beilein said. "It's a great sign, and a growth for our program. We know we don't have to depend on just a couple of guys."
The Wolverines still need the likes of Stauskas, McGary and Glenn Robinson III to consistently play well, especially next Saturday when they face an Arizona squad that could enter Crisler Arena as the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
Before worrying about the Wildcats, Michigan plays a Houston Baptist squad that's in its third season back as a full Division I program. The Wolverines overcame a 36.6 percent shooting performance during a 77-55 home win over the Huskies (3-5) on Nov. 20, 2009.
Sophomore guard Rob Lewis averages a team-leading 13.4 points for Houston Baptist, which followed a four-game losing streak with consecutive two-point victories over Army and Rice. Lewis and Marcel Smith each scored 16 points as the Huskies shot 48.1 percent in the 73-71 home win over the Owls on Wednesday.
Houston Baptist is facing its first Top 25 opponent since a 97-62 loss at No. 25 Creighton on Dec. 17, 2011.
Michigan has won 30 consecutive home games against unranked non-conference opponents by an average of 22.1 points since a 62-58 loss to Boston College on Dec. 2, 2009.
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