Game Statistics  
STORRS, Conn. (February 7, 2009) — Junior Jerome Dyson (Potomac, Md.) scored 19 points, junior Hasheem Thabeet (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) registered his 11th double-double of the season and senior Jeff Adrien (Brookline, Mass.) joined some elite company in program history as top-ranked Connecticut rallied to defeat Michigan, 69-61 in a non-conference men’s basketball victory Saturday evening before a sellout crowd of 10,167 at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.
The Huskies, winners of 11 straight games, improve to 22-1 on the season. The Wolverines drop to 15-9 for the year.
Adrien yanked down a game-best 14 rebounds and in doing so, reached the 1,000 point-1,000 rebound club at Connecticut. Only four other Huskies have achieved that feat in Storrs.
The Huskies struggled for most of the contest against Michigan’s zone defense but appeared to wrestle control of the game with a 14-4 spurt midway through the second half that broke the game’s seventh tie. Dyson scored eight points in the key run as the Huskies opened up their biggest lead of the game, 57-47. But Michigan hit back-to-back threes by Manny Harris and Stu Douglass to get right back in the contest.
The two teams traded scores and the verdict was in doubt until senior Craig Austrie (Stamford, Conn.) drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key off of a pass from senior A.J. Price (Amityville, N.Y.) with 56 seconds remaining to ice the win for the Huskies.
Dyson scored in double figures for the 18th time this year with his team leading 19 points, including 12 after halftime. Thabeet continued to dominate in the lane, scoring 17 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and swatting away six Michigan shots. He has made 16 of his last 24 shots from the field and is now shooting 65 percent from the field for the season.
Price scored 11 points and added seven assists and five rebounds. Adrien narrowly missed his 44th career double-double with nine points and his 14 rebounds. Adrien has averaged 12 rebounds per game over the last nine contests. Austrie finished with seven points.
The Wolverines overcame an early 8-1 deficit to lead by eight on two occasions in the first half. Michigan had a chance to open up a double-digit lead but Douglass missed an uncontested layup and the Huskies quickly took advantage. Thabeet scored on a dunk off a lob pass from junior Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, Ala,) and Dyson added back-to-back three-pointers to knot the contest at 31 apiece. The Wolverines took a 34-33 lead to the locker room.
The Huskies dominated the boards, out-rebounding Michigan, 47-24. The Huskies still have not been out-rebounded in a game this year.
Douglass scored a game-high 20 points for Michigan, while Harris chipped in with 15.
The Huskies return to BIG EAST Conference play on Wednesday, February 11, when they play host to Syracuse at Gampel Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. and the contest will be nationally-televised by ESPN.
Post Game Quotes
| | | | |
Obviously, to say that was a tough one would be an understatement.
The worst thing that might have happened to us was that we got off to the 8-1 start with a couple of fast breaks. And we tried to convince the kids that every game, not everybody is going to play the same way that we like to play, which is up and down the court, pressure and all of that kind of thing.
Coming home from Louisville, I said (to myself) “What did you do? You know it going to be tortuous. You know he’s going to put you through root canal.” And, sure in heck they did. And we didn’t react, early, well to it….They changed defenses, 1-3-1, 2-3, and then man-to-man. And then, of course, they run their offense machine-like, and grind you down until you give up.
The biggest thing they got us on, somewhere around 20 to 30 seconds in, we would get out of our athletic stance, because we were tired of just playing defense, and they would go by us, or make good plays.
At halftime, we said we were going to treat everything the same – 1-3-1, 2-3, man-to-man – and just go at them with a couple of simple things that we put in. We didn’t get it right away, but defensively, by bellying up and doing a couple of little things we hadn’t done, we were able to kind of take them out of some things.
And then the Hasheem Thabeet Factor came into play on rebounds, block shots. He just was immense. Like a lot of teams, there really weren’t a lot of answers for him.
I think we as a team, over those last 10, 12 minutes of the game, played about as gutty as you’re going to need to play to win any basketball game.
When I called the timeout, we were in trouble. We were in trouble in the sense that we were really a little bit discouraged by the fact that we couldn’t quite figure their defense out, and we were working so hard on offense, and not turning them over and getting our fast breaks and doing those kinds of things.
On Hasheem Thabeet
He changes the game completely for us. I don’t know where we’d be without him.
Are you starting to look at the national picture more now?
Right now we’re more focused on the Big East. We’re especially into the other teams that are in front of us, like Marquette who took a loss. That’s all we’re really focused on – the Big East standings. Now that everything is level, because everyone has one loss, we can just go out there and worry about what we need to do. We pretty much control our own destiny.
How has the team improved since December?
We’re much better. We’ve grown closer as a team. Each game we’re coming out with more of a focus. As long as we keep doing that, keep improving, this team could go a very long way.
How much did you influence Michigan players’ thoughts about going to the basket?
I just go out and play all out. The coaches told me not to be sacred about getting into foul trouble so every time I try to help and block it. I’m just trying to change the game. Every time my teammate gets beat, I’m there to block the shot. And team defense, the way we talk to each other, they tell me ‘someone got beat, go over there and help.’ So, I go over there and block a shot. The team defense is getting way better. The more we talk, the better we play.
How much are you embracing where this team is at right now?
We’re playing really good right now. I’m just happy we keep winning games. We fight from the beginning to the end. We have a great group of guys.
He alters a lot of shots. It’s means a lot.
Every game we play, whether it’s BIG EAST or a non-conference game like Michigan, helps us in many different ways. This game showed us how to grind and fight. That was a scrappy team over there.
We just have to stay with our stuff and play great defense. Sometimes we don’t get it going offensively. We always have defense.
We know we were going to have to step it up and play better defense than we were (early). It started with ball pressure. Once we were able to get ball pressure we were able to get them out of their game.
(In the second half) they kind of went away from the 1-3-1 they were playing. They were playing straight man and we just tried to the get the ball inside.
I thought it was a great basketball game. They really play with such great speed yet control. It gets you back on your heels just enough before the momentum changes. They score some quick points on you.
Thabeet is a big story in this game obviously, but Adrien is just…..I mean you can block him out. He’s just on mission to get the ball. He just rebounds the ball. I still remember him (when I was coaching) at West Virginia when he was a freshman. We couldn’t stop him them. And now he’s dieseled-up even more. He is a wonderful player.
Their guards do a great job knowing who should have the ball where, and complimenting outside play with the obvious presence of the big fella.
On the loss
It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt. I mean you’re disappointed, but pain is not an issue. What you’ve got to do is just say, “Ok here’s where we are, and here are the things we have to do to get better.”