Ann Arbor, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The 17th-ranked Michigan Wolverines will take aim at their third straight win on Saturday, as they host the NJIT Highlanders at the Crisler Center.
This it the final leg of a four-game road trip for NJIT, which is just 2-5 overall, with losses in four of its last five games. The Highlanders traveled to face UMass Lowell most recently, falling in that contest, 71-67. They will host St. Francis Brooklyn in their next outing.
Michigan survived with a 68-65 victory over Syracuse as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday for its second straight win since suffering a 60-55 setback against Villanova. The Wolverines are 6-1 overall with a home matchup against Eastern MCihigan being their final appetizer before a road contest against Arizona.
This bout marks the first meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.
NJIT entered halftime with a 35-22 deficit against UMass Lowell and was unable to close the gap entirely in the second half. The Highlanders only made 29.6 percent of their field goal tries in the opening stanza, while turning in a 46.9 percent effort over the final 20 minutes. They did manage to win the battle on the boards (36-35), while Damon Lynn finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
The Highlanders wound up shooting 39 percent against UMass Lowell, which is below their season average (.415). Although, they were right in the neighborhood of their season scoring average (66.4 ppg). Lynn (18.6 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2 spg) does quite a lot for the Highlanders, leading the team in scoring, assists and steals, while playing an average of 37 minutes per outing. Leading rebounder Ky Howard (12 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster, as well as the only other player logging more than 30 minutes of floor time per game.
Spike Albrecht drilled a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to break a 63-63 tie and push Michigan to victory against Syracuse. The Wolverines made only 38.5 percent of their shots in the contest, but they had 27 more field goal attempts than did the Orange, while outscoring their guests, 33-18, from 3- point range. Zak Irvin netted 18 points to lead five players in double figures for the winning side.
Irvin (17.7 ppg) is the leading scorer for Michigan, which relies heavily on a number of talented guards. Irvin isn't the most versatile offensive threat, relying heavily on his shooting from 3-point range. Luckily, he is rather accurate from that distance, nailing 43.4 percent of his long-range launches, while sinking 81.3 percent at the foul line. Caris LeVert (16.7 ppg 4.6 rpg, 4.9 apg, 2 spg) is the most versatile contributor, as he leads the team in rebounds, assists and steals, while creating his own shot much more frequently. Derrick Walton Jr. (12 ppg, 5 rpg) and Albrecht (6.1 ppg, 4.6 apg) both lend a hand as well.