ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Well, it happened again, only this time it was for several different reasons.
Michigan’s shocking 45-42 home loss Tuesday, the Wolverines second consecutive in upset fashion and first win for Eastern Michigan at Crisler Center since 1997, begs several questions, one standing out above the rest though:
Is it possible there was a hangover following Saturday’s dejecting loss to NJIT?
Ask John Beilein and he’ll say the losses are very different, but either way Michigan is now 6-3 to start the 2014-15 campaign.
“This was an intense game,” Beilein said. “Our guys really worked hard. New Jersey (Institute of Technology) shot 58-percent; this team shot 32-percent and they’ve been shooting really well. We could not score enough points.”
The poor scoring output was the lowest for Michigan since the 2008-09 season in a 54-42 home loss to No. 9 Michigan State.
What worked a week ago in a win against Syracuse was locked up tightly by Eastern Michigan in a 2-3 zone effort for the ages out of Rob Murphy’s guys. When it came time for the Wolverines to hit open looks, even those weren’t falling.
“Those things were open against Syracuse,” Beilein said. “Those things weren’t open today. That’s a heck of a team. There’s some days you don’t say I can just draw something up. That was really good.”
Sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr. scored nine points to go with five assists and four steals but couldn’t do enough to get Michigan over the hump offensively.
Regardless, he says the NJIT loss had nothing to do with Tuesday’s poor offensive effort.
“The last two practices were very high energy,” Walton Jr. said. “Everybody was real positive. As you can see at the beginning of the game we played with a lot of energy but like I said before, shots just didn’t fall and Eastern did a great job.”
Unlike the NJIT game, as Eastern Michigan continued to make big shot after big shot, especially in the second half, Michigan simply didn’t have an answer on the other end.
Even if Saturday’s loss wasn’t necessarily on the mind of the Wolverines Tuesday, Walton Jr. believes Michigan may have let some doubt creep in with every miss.
“I just think the shots weren’t falling so guys were kind of thinking about it,” Walton Jr. said. “But, other than that, we just tried to get the best possible look every possession down the floor.”
Despite their own offensive struggles, if the Eagles (8-1) can continue to play at that high a level defensively the season could be a great success. Tuesday, Michigan was simply left puzzled.
“I feel sorry for the other teams in the MAC,” Beilein said. “Maybe they won’t play this well. They had two banked in threes, they had a kid that hasn’t shot a three all year make one.
“Similar scenario but that thing is hard, I’m telling you, we had few answers and then once we adjusted they adjusted. Really well coached team.”