It was technically a Michigan basketball home game, even though it was played 45 minutes from Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines had more fans in the crowd, around 75% of the 14,206 spectators who thronged Little Caesars Arena wore corn and blue, but they didn’t make noise until late because it’s Emoni Bates from eastern Michigan which stole the show.
But in the end, Michigan (2-0) stole the game, avoiding an upset with an 88-83 victory, behind Hunter Dickinson who had 31 points and seven rebounds and Terrance Williams II who scored his first double-double in career with 18 points. and 11 rebounds.
“You can learn a lot from a win, it doesn’t have to be a loss,” coach Juwan Howard said. “We knew going into an atmosphere like that it would be a racing game… we knew it would be a very competitive game that was expected.
“Our guys did an amazing job of mental stability. When the races were in Eastern Michigan’s favor and we were down, we could have easily folded and we didn’t.”
Bates, the Ypsilanti native and first five-star prospect to ever play for a MAC team, who was transferred home after a disappointing first season and then battled legal issues earlier in the fall – resulting in a suspension from the team and then reinstatement just over a month later – looked like a player with the weight of the world lifted off his shoulders.
He scored a team-high 30 points on 12 of 19 shooting; the 17 points he scored in the first half alone equaled his college career high from last season at Memphis, as he looked a lot like the player who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated three years ago.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt (he feels less pressure now),” Eastern Michigan coach Stan Heath said. “He wanted to come here because he felt at home, he felt comfortable, he felt connected to his teammates.
“All those things matter, form matters. When players choose schools, they have to choose where they fit in. He fits in here, feels very comfortable. I like coaching him, I think ‘He likes playing for me and playing for his teammates.
UEM led for the majority of the second half, but with less than three minutes remaining, Llewellyn’s reverse layup gave UEM a 79-77 lead they would not relinquish. EMU (1-1) then committed an inbound violation, returning the ball. On that possession, Llewellyn made two free throws to extend the lead.
After a miss from Bates, Llewellyn drove to the basket and missed, but Dickinson followed with a comeback to take the lead with 2:04 left.
With 1:27 to play, fellow EMU transfer Tyson Acuff scored a lay-up and drew Kobe Bufkin’s fifth foul. The free throw cut the lead to 83-80. But Llewellyn had two free throws – he finished with nine points including 7 of 10 from the free throw line – after a Bates foul to give Michigan a five-point lead. A missed 3-pointer in Eastern Michigan and a final fadeaway from Dickinson would end the thwarted attempt, though Bates hit a hard, leaning 3 with 9.3 seconds left.
“Those last three he hit, I was like ‘fuck’,” Dickinson admitted afterwards. “It was a good contest from me and he did it, I mean I was just glad they didn’t call a foul, I just tried to contest as hard as I could.
“It was a very good shot, I was quite impressed with that one.”
Bates goes back in time
Bates scored the first points of the game, hitting a baseline jumper on an onside pass to get the Eagles on the board. Less than two minutes later, he converted a quick layup to put the Eagles up four.
The sophomore would come into a lull, fouling, missing two shots and forcing two turnovers over the next five minutes before taking a break. But he was the best player in the arena on the other side of his rest.
After an 11-0 run at Michigan, Bates hit a 3 to cap an 8-1 EMU push to regain a 22-21 lead. He jumped over a Wolverines turnover, then delivered a thunderous slam over Michigan’s Tarris Reed Jr., which got the crowd going.
Bates, however, stared at Reed for too long a time as he was called for a technical foul – Jett Howard missed both free throws. Moments later, after a quick 4-0 run gave Michigan the lead, Dug McDaniel was assessed as a technical taunt and Bates missed both free throws.
Bates capped his first half with a long jumper with just over two minutes left before a contested 3-pointer from 30ft gave the Eagles a 43-38 lead, tied for their biggest of the match.
“I’ve seen this young man grow from the time he was published in the public news like what, I remember the best fourth grader in the country,” said Howard, who had a long chat after -game with Bates, after Friday’s game. to win. “With that, I was like, ‘OK, that’s rating the best fourth-grader in the country,’ but you just see his growth every year.
“He’s starting to get compared to Kevin Durant and that’s hard for any youngster but give him credit for the way he worked on his game and his skills so with that some of the shots he made didn’t surprise me, because I saw him do a lot of hard punches.
Bates didn’t score his first bucket of the second half until 13:25, but he followed up the next possession with a ferocious one-handed slam to give EMU a three-point lead.
His next points came via a nifty pass behind the back from Orlando Lovejoy on a fast break that led to an easy lay-up for Bates. The second would add another jumper and two free throws to give EMU a one-point lead with just over four to play.
Bates missed three straight games, one with the game tied at 77, the next with EMU down 81-77, and the Eagles could never get back in all four.
EMU’s Noah Farrakhan added 19 points despite second-half foul trouble, Acuff was the other double-digit Eagle with 10.
Terrance Williams and Hunter Dickinson provide the juice
The Wolverines are still figuring out how they fit together. They’re only firing one starter (Dickinson) and just two players (Williams) who averaged at least 15 minutes a season ago.
Michigan found itself against the wall and it consistently went to the captains, who found answers. Dickinson led UM’s first-half scorers with 12 points, while Williams had eight points and seven rebounds at the break and each played even better in the final 20 minutes.
The two combined to score 16 of the team’s first 19 points in the second half, and 29 of 46 overall, punctuated by a Dickinson and -1 with 11:44 to play, which gave Michigan its first lead, 61-60, as he led 36-35 with 2:53 left in the first half.
“Me and Hunter definitely took that to heart,” Williams said. “The coach looks at us when times are tough it’s because we were at half so we just had to come out and bring some energy as leaders and I feel like we did that. .”
After a 4-0 push by the Eagles, Dickinson returned to work. The junior hit a jumper and draped himself to keep the Wolverines within one. His next bucket, a turnover with just under five minutes to go, ended a 5-0 run that put Michigan back in front.
“I think there was a stretch in that second half when we were in the lead, they made a run and they basically rammed it into Hunter,” the Eastern Michigan coach said. , Stan Heath. “Hunter Dickinson is a problem, this guy is a filler, he can score in different ways.
“We tried to give him different looks, double teams, single coverage, you know how to sag, go behind, all these different things but it’s kind of picking your poison situation because if you go too on him they have other guys who can shoot.”
The game was tied 11 times and had 17 leading changes, but Dickinson proved too much. He played a perfect second half in basketball, going 8 of 8 from the field and 3 of 3 from the free throw line for 19 points after halftime.
“I think I’m the toughest, toughest person on Hunter because I always expect more,” Howard said. “But give him credit, he doesn’t mind me challenging him, he doesn’t mind being coached and he loves going out there and competing.”
Contact Tony Garcia at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @realtonygarcia.
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