By R.L. Bynum
Junior Puff Johnson has missed No. 1 North Carolina’s first two games and will likely be out for at least two more as he recovers from a sore knee.
Coach Hubert Davis said Monday that he practiced Sunday and had limited reps Monday.
“He’s been given a full go in terms of being able to practice fully,” Davis said. “And my anticipation is for him to practice this entire week and be ready to go when we go out to Portland next week.”
That would mean the 6–8 Johnson would miss the first four games of the season, including home games on Tuesday at 8 p.m. against Gardner-Webb (ACC Network) and Sunday at noon against James Madison (ACC Network.)
Carolina plays its opener of the Phil Knight Invitational on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) in Portland against Portland, with games on Friday (against Iowa State or No. 16 Villanova) and Sunday (against either No. 18 Alabama, No. 25 UConn, Oregon or Michigan State).
Johnson missed 15 games last season because of COVID-19 protocols and then a sprained toe but scored in double figures at N.C. State (16 points), against Marquette in the first round of the NCAA tournament (11) and against Kansas in the national-championship game (11). He also had six rebounds against Kansas and six rebounds in the home victory over the Wolfpack.
Johnson will likely be a key player off the bench for a UNC team that only played seven players more than six minutes in the opening-game 69–56 victory over UNCW and only six players more than eight minutes in the 102–86 victory over College of Charleston.
UNC vs. Gardner-Webb
— 8:05 p.m. Tuesday at Smith Center
— Wes Durham and Dan Bonner on the ACC Network call
— Gardner-Webb, which went 18–13 last season, is 0–2 after a 65–63 Nov. 7 loss at Colorado State and an 86–71 Thursday loss at Stephen F. Austin.
— Carolina has won all five meetings, with each November games in the Smith Center and under Coach Roy Williams: 83–80 in 2005, 103–50 in 2006, 93–72 in 2009, 76–59 in 2012 and 77–61 in 2019.
— UNC is 177–18 all-time against non-conference in-state opponents.
|28||Friday||W, 101–40||Johnson C. Smith||Home||Exhibition|
|11||Friday||W, 102–86||College of Charleston||Home||2–0|
|20||Sunday||W, 80–64||James Madison||Home||4–0|
|Phil Knight Invitational|
|24||Thursday||W, 89–81||First round: Portland||Portland||5–0|
|27||Sunday||L, 103–101, |
No. 1 Alabama
|ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|30||Wednesday||L, 77–65||No. 21 Indiana||Bloomington, Ind.||5–3|
|4||Sunday||L, 80–72||Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Va.||5–4, |
|10||Saturday||W, 75–59||Georgia Tech||Home||6–4, |
|13||Tuesday||W, 100–67||The Citadel||Home||7–4|
|CBS Sports Classic|
|17||Saturday||W, 89–84, OT||Ohio State||New York||8–4|
|30||Friday||L, 76–74||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||9–5, |
|4||Wednesday||W, 88–79||Wake Forest||Home||10–5, |
|7||Saturday||W, 81–64||Notre Dame||Home||11–5, |
|10||Tuesday||L, 65–58||No. 14 Virginia||Charlottesville||11–6, |
|14||Saturday||W, 80–59||Louisville||Louisville, Ky.||12–6, |
|17||Tuesday||W, 72–64||Boston College||Home||13–6, |
|21||Saturday||W, 80–69||N.C. State||Home||14–6, |
|24||Tuesday||W, 72–68||Syracuse||Syracuse, N.Y.||15–6, |
|1||Wednesday||L, 65–64||Pittsburgh||Home||15–7, |
|4||Saturday||L, 63–57||No. 12 Duke||Durham||15–8, |
|7||Tuesday||L, 92–85||Wake Forest||Winston-Salem||15–9, |
|11||Saturday||W, 91–71||Clemson||Home|| 16–9, |
|13||Monday||L, 80–72||No. 16 Miami||Home||16–10, |
|19||Sunday||L, 77–69||N.C. State||Raleigh||16–11, |
|22||Wednesday||W, 63–59||Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.||17–11, |
|25||Saturday||W, 71–63||No. 14 Virginia||Home||18–11, |
|27||Monday||W, 77–66||Florida State||Tallahassee, Fla.||19–11, |
|4||Saturday||L, 62–57||No. 12 Duke||Home||19–12,|
|8||Wednesday||W, 85–61||Boston College||Greensboro||20–12|
|9||Thursday||L, 68–59||No. 14 Virginia||Greensboro||20–13|
Photo via @UNC_Basketball