Illinois v Miami

Miami’s Reggie Johnson injured, will not play against Marquette


Multiple reports are surfacing that Miami forward Reggie Johnson will not play and will not make the trip to Washington D.C. for the Hurricanes Sweet 16 match-up against Marquette due to an apparent “lower extremity” injury.

Johnson suffered the injury in the Hurricanes’ victory over Illinois in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Without Johnson, the Hurricanes will take a hit in the post. The senior from Winston-Salem, N.C. has averaged 6.7 points and seven rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game this season. Johnson has been coming off the bench for the most part this year, starting just nine games.

“We’re all just going to have to step up,” sixth-year senior forward Julian Gamble told the Miami Herald. “Hopefully we get him back for the Final Four.”

Johnson is a nimble space-eater at 6-10, 292 pounds. He was expected to be matched-up against another talented big-body in Marquette’s 6-8, 290-pound Davante Gardner.

A tweet from The South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Michael Casagrande furthers how “out of nowhere” this news seemed.

There’s been no word on a timetable for Johnson’s return.

The one silver lining is that Jim Larranaga’s bunch has been here before. Johnson missed eight games earlier this season due to a broken thumb and also missed a win over Jacksonville before that. Miami has gone 7-2 without him this season, with both their losses coming in the Diamondhead Classic to Indiana State and then-no. 4 Arizona.

Johnson hasn’t been at his best offensively since returning from the thumb injury. He has yet to record a double-digit scoring game and is shooting 38 percent from the field — though he hasn’t really been called upon to carry any bulk of the offense, Miami is too loaded for that. But he has maintained his rebounding presence, grabbing at least six in 10 games since Jan. 23.

Miami is deep enough to withstand the loss of Johnson. That’s obvious. The biggest problem this presents is that without Johnson, it might take some serious help-side defense by forwards Kenny Kadji and Julius Gamble to contain Gardner down low. Both are able to guard Gardner one-on-one, but his size allows him to create space better than a lot of forwards in college basketball and he’s very good at getting his shot up around the basket without a lot of room.

Miami plays Marquette at 7:15 p.m. EDT on Thursday.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.