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Canes head to DC, Sweet 16 without Reggie Johnson

The Miami Hurricanes boarded a bus for the Sweet 16 on Tuesday evening without the biggest player on the roster and its top rebounder.

Center Reggie Johnson will not be making the trip to Washington, D.C., two teammates confirmed, because of a knee injury. UM later released a statement saying Johnson (6-10, 292) sustained a lower extremity injury in the win over Illinois Sunday and his timetable for a return is uncertain.

"We're all just going to have to step up," said sixth-year senior forward Julian Gamble. "Hopefully we get him back for the Final Four."

UM coach Jim Larranaga didn't discuss the injury before the news began to spread as players and coaches began boarding a bus bound for the airport in front of the BankUnited Center. By the time reporters began asking questions to players who were signing autographs and taking pictures with fans, Larranaga was already on the bus. 

UM faces Marquette Thursday night. Johnson, who is averaging 6.9 points and leads the team with 7.0 rebounds a game, is averaging 2.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and shooting 28.9 percent from the field (13 for 45 field goals) in 13.3 minutes per game over his last 12 games.  

"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," Larranaga said when asked about Johnson earlier in the afternoon. "They combine to do what we need done."

The Hurricanes have been starting Gamble and Kadji in the post. Gamble is averaging 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds a game. Kadji, a stretch-four, is averaging 13 points and 6.9 rebounds a contest. 

With Johnson out, UM will count on freshman Tonye Jekiri (1.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg) and junior Erik Swoope (1.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg) for more production.