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Miami center Reggie Johnson unlikely to play in Hawaii due to jammed left thumb

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Since dropping their season opener at Florida Gulf Coast the Miami Hurricanes have been one of the ACC’s hottest teams, playing well enough to question whether or not Jim Larranaga’s team is the second-best team in the conference.

But after beating host Hawaii in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic without the services of senior center Reggie Johnson, it looks as if Miami will have to navigate the remainder of the event without him as well.

Coach Larranaga stated after Miami’s 73-58 win over Hawaii that he did not expect Johnson to play either tonight or on Tuesday.

The reason is a jammed left thumb, an injury Johnson suffered in the first minutes of Miami’s practice on Friday. Averaging 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season, Johnson has been Miami’s most consistent interior presence.

With Johnson sidelined Larranaga turned to fifth-year senior Julian Gamble against Hawaii, and that will be the case again when the Hurricanes take on No. 4 Arizona Sunday night.

Gamble was highly effective in the win over the Warriors on Saturday night, tallying 16 points and 13 rebounds (eight offensive) to help lead Miami to its eighth straight win. Senior guard Durand Scott led the way offensively with 20 points and Trey McKinney-Jones, who spent Friday in the hospital with a 105-degree fever, added 11 off the bench.

Miami will need more of the same from Gamble if they’re to knock off the Wildcats, who enter the contest with three young but very talented big men in Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski. Ashley posted his second double-double of the season in Arizona’s 73-53 win over East Tennessee State on Saturday, finishing with 16 points and ten rebounds.

Beating Arizona without Johnson will require Gamble and Kenny Kadji to hold their own inside, as well as their perimeter weapons producing while limiting their turnover count.

Photo credit: University of Miami

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.