Michigan basketball outlasts Eastern Michigan in thriller in Detroit

DETROIT — Two schools located just a few miles apart put on quite a show late Friday night in their state’s largest city.

Michigan outlived Eastern Michigan 88-83 and overcame an eight-point deficit in the second half to go 2-0.

For 40 minutes, the men’s basketball teams went back and forth, delighting fans in the mostly packed Little Caesars Arena.

Each team’s biggest star shone brightly.

Eastern Michigan had no answer for Michigan’s 7-foot-1 junior Hunter Dickinson, who scored 31 on 13-of-17 shooting and set up a couple of bone-jarring screens in the open ground.

Sophomore Emoni Bates of eastern Michigan, an Ypsilanti native, scored 30 points on 12 of 19 from the field and routinely created space off-dribble to take shots typically seen by the NBA players who are building her call home.

In a 77-tie, No. 22 Michigan capitalized on a 6-0 sprint to create a cushion with two minutes left.

The stars of the game had capable sidekicks on Friday. Terrance Williams II scored 18 for Michigan. Noah Farrakhan had 19 for Easter.

Against the big program on the road, Eastern led by three at halftime and quickly proved it wasn’t a fluke, extending their lead to 51-43 a few minutes into the second half. Williams hit Michigan’s 13-4 response with 3 and four free throws, and Bufkin’s breakaway dunk gave Michigan a 56-55 lead, 13:37 left.

Again, the Eagles were unimpressed. Bates scored two goals, including a baseline slam with authority. It went back and forth.

Jett Howard turned it around and attempted to dribble behind his back, and Orlando Lovejoy took two free throws down the other end to give Eastern an 11-17 lead.

Michigan couldn’t retake the lead by more than 6.5 minutes.

Eastern’s Tyson Acuff benched a step-back jumper when the shot clock went off to give his team a 73-69 advantage. Williams was fouled on a 3 and conceded at the line before Dickinson’s baseline baby hook at 4:48 left Michigan a 74-73 lead.

From there, the teams traded clutch plays.

In a 77 tie, Jaelin Llewellyn drove the baseline and made a reverse layup, then Eastern botched the inbounds that followed. Llewellyn drove again and was fouled, making both free throws to take the lead to four with 2:37 to go. On the other side, Bates split but moved forward with a 3 from the Suburbs. Finally, as the action raced the other way, Dickinson corralled and booked a miss.

Llewellyn drove and lost the ball, perhaps between a shot and a pass, resulting in his head coach banging the scorer’s table in frustration. Acuff converted a one-and-one at the other end to cut the lead to three with 90 seconds left. After Williams missed a 3, Eastern had a fast break chance to get closer, but Howard pulled out Farrakhan and Michigan gained possession on a jump ball.

Llewellyn made two free throws, Eastern failed to score at the other end, and Dickinson delivered a dagger with 20 seconds left to make it 87-80. Bates rushed across the court for a quick 3, giving Eastern a breath of life with nine seconds remaining. The fuss shouldn’t be.

Eastern started quickly. Two baskets each from Bates and Legend Geeter made for 9-4 Eagles. Michigan responded: Dickinson’s and-one and Bufkin’s fast-break layup after he stole Bates tied the game. Long-range shots from Howard and Williams gave Michigan their first lead, 15-14, at 12:45 at the half.

Michigan stayed hot, leading to an 11-0 run that put it 20-14, but Bates’ pull-up 3 in the transition gave Eastern a 22-21 lead. After some fancy dribbles, he hurled a baseline jumper to the nearest basket and then dunked a teammate’s miss on Eastern’s next possession. He drew a technical error for alerting Michigan’s Tarris Reed Jr., though Howard missed both free throws.

The game went back and forth until the end of halftime.

Bates broke away from Bufkin just enough to hit a long 2 and then a 3 to make it 40-36 with 1:47. Bates, who already had 17 points, urged eastern supporters – heavily outnumbered but vocal – to make noise. At the other end, Dickinson made his way to a basket and cheered on the Michigan faithful. There were certainly some fans who applauded exciting games for both teams.

Farrakhan hit a 3 with a minute left in the half to give him 15 points. Dickinson scored again to give him 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

With 29 seconds left, Williams was whistled for a foul, much to Juwan Howard’s disbelief. The referee who made the call conceded to Howard that it was a mistake. “He told me I was right, but they still got two free throws,” Howard said to no one in particular. Williams reclaimed the points with a tip-in at the other end for the final points of the half. East led 45-42.

Michigan will play Pittsburgh again in the four-team, two-night Legends Classic on Wednesday night in New York.

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