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.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.