The rest of Michigan starters shot 4-of-19, good for 13-points. U-M’s bench fared no better, contributing only nine points.
Combined with the lack of production from their starting five, and an NJIT team that shot 58.7 percent from the field -- including 11-of-17 from three-point range -- it became the perfect solution for the Wolverines to fall to the lesser opponent on Saturday.
Is this an issue moving forward? How desperately does Michigan coach John Beilein need a third, fourth or even fifth scorer? Can U-M win with just a one-two punch?
Those questions and more will certainly remain as Michigan (6-2) prepares for Eastern Michigan (7-1) tonight at 9 p.m. at Crisler Center.
However, will they get answered?
“Hopefully you always have two or three guys out there. You would like to have two scorers on the floor at least,” Beilein said. “As we continue to have a bigger inside presence trying to develop Kameron [Chatman], [Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman], and Aubrey [Dawkins] – that’s going to take time – all of that is going to take time.”
Spike Albrecht (12-points) and Rick Doyle (12-points), who all contributed in the 68-65 win.
“The role we got in the Syracuse game, we had the fourth and fifth guy did [was] tremendous,” Beilein said. “And Spike really. Those were the four, five and six. So hopefully we get more of that.”
Zak Irvin led U-M with 18-points against Syracuse. But against NJIT, the 6-foot-7 guard struggled, shooting 2-of-11 from the floor, including 1-of-8 from 3s -- he finished with five-points. A poor performance for Irvin, who is second on the team in scoring with 16.1 ppg – that scoring production was missed in U-M’s upset loss.
“Some days you’re just not going to shoot the ball well,” Beilein said of Irvin. “And the biggest issue with all shooters. ‘You’re not shooting the ball well, how can you help us in other ends?’ That’s just going to happen. So how can you help us on other ends of the court?”
On the season, Michigan averages 74.2 ppg. They are led by top scorers: LeVert (18.6 ppg), Irvin (16.1 ppg) and Walton Jr. (12.6 ppg), who are the only three players on the team who average double figures.
With Michigan still developing its younger talent, depth is a concern. And when one of their top scorers struggles – like Irvin did on Saturday – it could spell trouble for the Wolverines moving forward.