Puff Johnson likely to miss two more games

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.

(current ranking)
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
Iowa State
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
No. 1 Alabama
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 21 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 14 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57No. 12 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7TuesdayL, 92–85Wake ForestWinston-Salem15–9,
7–6 ACC
11SaturdayW, 91–71ClemsonHome 16–9,
8–6 ACC
13MondayL, 80–72No. 16 MiamiHome16–10,
8–7 ACC
19SundayL, 77–69N.C. StateRaleigh16–11,
8–8 ACC
22WednesdayW, 63–59Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.17–11,
9–8 ACC
25SaturdayW, 71–63No. 14 VirginiaHome18–11,
10–8 ACC
27MondayW, 77–66Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.19–11,
11–8 ACC
4SaturdayL, 62–57No. 12 DukeHome19–12,
11–9 ACC
ACC tournament
8WednesdayW, 85–61Boston CollegeGreensboro20–12
9ThursdayL, 68–59No. 14 Virginia Greensboro20–13

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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