NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballMiami (FL) HurricanesNorth Carolina Tar Heels

The Miami Hurricanes Gut Out a Victory Over North Carolina Tar Heels With Reggie Johnson Sidelined

Bob Donnan – USA TODAY Sports

Miami pulled away from North Carolina to win 68-59 in Chapel Hill on Thursday Jan. 10. Head Coach Jim Larranaga should be proud of his Hurricanes who are missing maybe their most vital piece in big man Reggie Johnson. Johnson had led the team in rebounds and blocked shots, while also contributing 12.6 points per game before being sidelined with a broken thumb. Johnson is expected to return to action in mid-February.

Kenny Kadji paved the way for Miami leading his team in points, rebounds, and blocked shots against UNC. Kadji logged 18 points, 9 rebounds, and a stunning 4 blocked shots. He also shot 7-for-11 from the field including two 3-pointers.

Also stepping up in the post to fill the Johnson-void was senior F-C Julian Gamble. Since Johnson went down, Gamble has been outstanding and has averaged 9.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks in those six games. Against UNC he contributed 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.  Clearly Gamble stepping up has kept Miami on the winning path. Without his recent performance the Hurricanes would be losing their ACC games, but they are 2-and-0 so far in conference play.

Durand Scott also continues to contribute in every phase of the game, and his 3 steals all resulted in Miami baskets. The most significant of these was with Miami up 58-55 and 4 minutes left in regulation. Scott came up with a steal, and on the ensuing play Trey McKinney Jones hit a 3-pointer to go up six points.

McKinney Jones and Shane Larkin had the only marred performances on the evening. They combined for 9 turnovers, and Jones shot poorly for most of the game. The only shot he hit from the field was the crucial 3-pointer assisted by Scott. Larkin didn’t rack up many assists, but the Hurricanes prevailed nonetheless as a team.

Miami’s next opponent is Maryland on Sunday Jan. 13. If Gamble continues his supportive post play they will have a chance against a solid Terrapins rotation.