DETROIT — Matchups between the No. 22 Michigan men’s basketball team and Eastern Michigan aren’t always the most enthralling affairs. In the 29 previous matchups between the programs, the Wolverines hold 26 victories. With this contest being held at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, though, there was a certain buzz to the event. And with forward Emoni Bates on the floor, the Eagles stood a chance.

It was a chance that they almost capitalized on as Michigan (2-0) narrowly escaped an upset against Eastern Michigan (1-1), 88-83.

“You’ve got to grind it out for 40 minutes,” junior center Hunter Dickinson said. “For our team to go out there and battle from behind, down five points with eight minutes or so left, I think it was really good for us to have that test early on.”

Like a pair of heavyweight boxers, the Wolverines and Eagles took turns trading blows throughout the contest, waiting to see who would break first.

For Eastern Michigan, it was Bates and guard Noah Farrakhan throwing the punches. Combining for 32 of the Eagles’ first half points, and 49 total, the duo stuck to an isolation-heavy style and Michigan had trouble stopping it.

While no single Wolverine boasted the first-half performance that Bates and Farrakhan did, Michigan always found someone to absorb the blow dealt by Eastern Michigan.

“Our guys did an amazing job of just having the mental stability when the runs were in Eastern Michigan’s favor and we were down,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “We could have easily just faulted and we didn’t.”

Heading into the break, that person was Dickinson. Scoring twice in the final two minutes, Dickinson cut the Eagles’ lead to just two points at the half — keeping Michigan within striking distance.

The second half remained a back-and-forth contest. Highlighted by his second poster of the night — this time over Williams — Bates continued to exploit the Wolverine defense en route to a 30-point performance.

But for everything that Bates did on the offensive end, Dickinson proved even better in the second half. As opposed to the first half that saw Michigan involve a plethora of players on offense, the second half ran through Dickinson. He began looking to score more frequently, making all eight of his field goals in the half and finishing with a game-high 31 points.

“I think I might be the toughest and hardest person on Hunter because I just expect more, and give the young man credit, he doesn’t mind that I challenge him and he doesn’t mind being coached,” Howard said. “… But he’s just working, and he’s doing an amazing job leading as well.”

With Dickinson and Bates continuing to match each other, the game inched closer and closer to the final buzzer — neither team able to find any separation from the other.

With just over four minutes left to play, sophomore guard Kobe Bufkin stepped into Dickinson’s spotlight with a crucial play. Flinging himself towards the rim off a drive from the corner, Bufkin finished through contact and converted the and-one to give Michigan a two-point lead entering crunch-time.

After Bufkin’s basket, the Wolverines never let the Eagles get back out in front, managing to escape the upset.

“You don’t always have to learn with losses, you can learn with wins, too,” Dickinson said. “I think it was great for us to go out there and have that test early on, because every game is not going to be easy.”

On Friday, Michigan passed the test — just not with an A.