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