ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- No. 17 Michigan overslept Saturday’s high noon tip at Crisler Center and never truly woke up as the NJIT Highlanders stunned the Wolverines 72-70.
Michigan (6-2) was powered by junior Caris LeVert, scoring 32-points while shooting 6-of-8 from behind the three-point line, also turning the ball over three times.
Sophomore Derrick Walton Jr. also had an impressive afternoon despite battling a lingering left toe injury, finishing his day with 16-points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field, but accounting for four turnovers as well.
For NJIT (3-5), Damon Lynn led the way with 20-points, knocking down 6-of-10 attempts on threes, the Highlanders also privy to 17-points out of Ky Howard, shooting an impressive 7-of-9 from the field.
In the early going it appeared the Wolverines would be on their way to a non-conference blowout, opening the game on an 8-2 run at the first media timeout thanks to buckets from LeVert, Spike Albrecht and Mark Donnal.
The Highlanders would continue to hang around in the first half though.
Outscoring the Wolverines 13-8 over the next five minutes, NJIT connected on a pair of threes from Winfield Willis and Ky Howard, Michigan holding a 16-15 advantage with 7:35 to go.
Michigan tried to build a lead before heading into the break, Albrecht firing in a three-pointer followed by the first career three-pointer out of Donnal put the Wolverines up 24-17, their largest lead of the game.
Once again NJIT chipped away at the lead.
After a mid-ranger jumper went for Derrick Walton Jr. to make it 28-21 with 2:59 left in the half, the Highlanders were again rewarded with two three-pointers, this time from Willis and Damon Lynn.
A breakaway lay-in by Irvin made the score 32-27, Michigan leading at halftime.
In the second half, Michigan still couldn’t fend off the advances of NJIT, LeVert scoring seven of the Wolverines first 10-points out of the locker room to lead 42-38.
After an Albrecht bucket made it 44-38, the Highlanders went on a 13-0 run. Osa Izevbuwa got things started with a layup, Lynn then pouring in two three-pointers over a three-minute span to put NJIT up 51-44.
Michigan would make a run though.
Following a timeout by John Beilein, Walton Jr. stepped to the line to convert two free throws, Walton Jr. then finding LeVert who banks in a three to make it a 53-49 NJIT lead.
After a LeVert rebound the junior Pre-season All-Big Ten selection pushed the ball up the floor to repay Walton Jr. who rattles home a three from the left wing cutting the Highlanders lead to just one.
Walton Jr. and LeVert scored the next 10 points for Michigan including two more three balls out of LeVert to give the Wolverines a 62-61 lead with 4:32 to play.
Per usual Saturday, the Highlanders continued to fight.
A jumper from Howard and another three-pointer out of Lynn pushed the NJIT lead back to 68-64 with just 2:22 remaining in the game.
LeVert hit two free throws following a timeout to make it a 68-66 NJIT advantage before Howard make it a four-point game once again with a long two.
Next time down for Michigan LeVert scored his tenth straight point for the Wolverines with yet another triple from the left wing, 70-69 Highlanders with 1:40 to play.
A block by Irvin gave the Wolverines the ball going the other way still trailing by one with just under a minute to go but an errant pass by LeVert gave the Highlanders the ball with the lead.
After a Howard miss from downtown Michigan was unable to secure the defensive rebound, Daquan Holiday fouled by Albrecht, his fifth of the afternoon, sending him to the bench.
Holiday knocked down two free throws with 4.3 seconds remaining. Following a timeout by Beilein, NJIT chose to foul Kameron Chatman on the inbound, Chatman making the first free throw and intentionally missing the second as the Wolverines ran out of time.