The Miami Hurricanes will be missing a key contributor off the bench when they face Marquette in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. The Miami Heraldreported Tuesday that senior center Reggie Johnson will not travel with the team to its game in Washington, D.C. after suffering a "lower extremity" injury in the team's win over Illinois on Sunday.
Johnson had surgery Tuesday to repair a minor meniscus issue, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.
Johnson contributed just over 21 minutes per game off the bench for UM this season, scoring 6.7 points with 7.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. Only starter Kenny Kadji grabbed more rebounds than Johnson over the entire season.
"We're all just going to have to step up," senior forward Julian Gamble told the Herald. "Hopefully we get him back for the Final Four." As Johnson is not traveling with the team, he is not expected to be available should Miami advance to the Elite Eight (they would play on Sunday if they beat Marquette on Friday).
Canes coach Jim Larranaga was more circumspect, declining to address Johnson's status directly when asked about it by the Herald.
"I've said this before and I know you guys make a lot more of it than we do, but we've had great performances from our big guys," he said. "They combine to do what we need done."
Johnson scored 7 points with 10 rebounds in Miami's opening-round win over Pacific on Friday, and added 5 rebounds (but scored no points) in Sunday's game against Illinois.
Freshman Tonye Jekiri could see more minutes in Johnson's absence. He scored 1.4 points per game with 1.6 rebounds on just 6.9 minutes per game off the bench this season. In Miami's two tournament games, he has combined for 10 points and 7 rebounds in 23 minutes of playing time.
Miami tips off against third-seeded Marquette in the East Regional semifinal at 7:15 p.m. ET on Thursday night, with coverage on CBS.