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The Eastern Echo

EMU Vs. Oakland Men's Basketball Game

EMU Eagles Fall Short in Hoops Showdown at Michigan, 83-66

Acuff notches 24 points, while Lovejoy achieves a season-best 16 points

As the University of Michigan men's basketball head coach Juwan Howard returned to the sidelines on Saturday, the Eastern Michigan University men's basketball team suffered a defeat against the Wolverines with a final score of 83-66 on Saturday, Dec. 16, in non-conference play held at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Junior Tyson Acuff (Detroit, Mich.) contributed 24 points while sophomore Orlando Lovejoy (Detroit, Mich) achieved a season-high 16 points for the Eagles.

“We haven’t had Orlando Lovejoy out there a long time, and I thought Orlando did a great job with being the guy who hasn’t played a lot and having 16 points. He was a big contributor for us as well too," head coach Stan Heath said about Lovejoy’s outstanding performance.

Eastern took the lead with the game's opening points courtesy of a jumper by sophomore Cyril Martynov (Barrie, Ontario). However, the Wolverines would respond with a 14-2 run, establishing a 16-6 lead and eventually expanding their advantage to 49-32 by halftime.

Eastern narrowed the gap to 59-49 with a layup from Acuff with 10 minutes remaining in the second half, but the Wolverines subsequently surged ahead. The second half remained competitive, with both teams scoring 34 points.

“He is smart enough to realize that the shots aren’t falling. I gotta find other ways to help my team. He did that by attacking the rim, hitting some mid-range shots as well, and getting himself to the free throw line," coach Heath said while talking about Acuff and his craftsmanship being valuable to the team. 

Eastern's season record advanced to 5-5, whereas Michigan's record moved to 6-5. EMU recorded a shooting percentage of 40.0% (26-of-65) from the field and 13.3% (2-of-15) from three-point range. In contrast, the Wolverines achieved shooting percentages of 54.4% (31-of-57) from the floor and 44.4% (12-of-27) from beyond the arc.

EMU surpassed U-M in points scored in the paint with a score of 38-30. This marks the fourth instance this season where Eastern has outscored its opponent in the paint, bringing their record to 2-2 in such games. Coach Heath states that he was motivated that we chose to penetrate the paint.

Acuff notched 24 points, marking his sixth game with 23 or more points this season. He joins an exclusive group of players nationwide, including Zach Edey from Purdue University, Tommy Bruner from Denver University, and Jordan Johnson from New Orleans University, all of whom have achieved six or more games with 23 or more points.

In the first 10 games of the 2023-24 season, Acuff has consistently scored at least 13 points. This impressive streak makes him the first Eagle since Brandon Bowdry to achieve such a feat, as Bowdry started the 2009-10 season with 13 consecutive games scoring 14 or more points.

The encounter on Saturday marked the 32nd meeting between EMU and Michigan. Eastern Michigan trails in the series with a record of three wins and 29 losses. Additionally, the team's recent performance in Ann Arbor has resulted in a 1-1 record in the last two games, with a narrow victory against the Wolverines at 45-42 on Dec. 9, 2014.

Next up for the Eagles is a scheduled home game against Hampton University on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 1 p.m. The matchup will take place inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center.

For more information on the EMU men's basketball team, you can visit The Echo's website.