Miami will be without big man Reggie Johnson in its Sweet 16 game Thursday against Marquette after he underwent surgery to repair a minor meniscus issue, according to multiple media outlets.
Johnson, a 6-foot-10, 292-pound senior center, suffered a knee injury Saturday in the Hurricanes’ victory over Illinois, forcing him to stay behind while his teammates traveled to Washington. Miami released a statement saying that Johnson sustained a “lower extremity injury” and that his return is uncertain for now.
However, a spokesman said that Johnson could play in the Final Four if Miami advances past this weekend.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Reggie, and we’re hoping he can recover from this quickly,” Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga told The Miami Herald. “Our players are preparing to play Marquette, and we have to play the players we have. We’ve had to deal with these issues before, and our guys have handled it with class.”
It remains unclear when Johnson was hurt in 63-59 victory over the Illini. He played 18 minutes and was in the game for the last 15 seconds.
Johnson has played in 26 games for the Hurricanes this season, starting nine of them, while averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds.
His presence will truly be missed Thursday night as the Hurricanes face a talented team in Marquette. They outrebounded their opponents by 4.5 per game this season. The Golden Eagles have 31 offensive rebounds in this year’s NCAA tournament, making them the third-best in the field behind Michigan State (34) and Gonzaga (32).
“We’re all just going to have to step up,” Hurricanes senior forward Julian Gamble said. “Hopefully, we get him back for the Final Four.”
“I was saying to Duran [Scott], we waited four years to play in this tournament, and we finally got our first win,” Johnson said after the Canes’ NCAA Tournament opener against Pacific. “That’s my first [NCAA] Tournament win, and we have a chance to do something on a national stage.”
If Miami defeats Marquette, it will face the winner of Indiana and Syracuse for a chance to go to Atlanta for the Final Four.