Spencer Johnson, the calming presense, leads BYU with double-double on Senior Night

For Spencer Johnson, this wasn’t just another game. It was more than the final home game of the season. It was more than BYU bouncing back from a tough loss. It was more than getting a final home win in front of a sold-out crowd.

It was his last basketball game at the Marriott Center after four seasons at BYU.

Before the game, Johnson was honored for Senior Night with his teammates Jaxson Robinson and Tradyn Christensen.

Emotions ran high as he held his newborn son, Joey, with his wife, Isabella, by his side. Johnson’s son was born just a few days before BYU traveled to Kansas and upset a top-ranked team.

“A lot of hard work paid off right there in that moment, it was pretty special,” Johnson said reflecting on the moment he shared with his family and teammates.

However, once the ball was tipped, his focus was on the task at hand, securing the five seed for the Big 12 Tournament and avenging the bad loss at Oklahoma State.

Despite no points in the first half, Johnson’s presence was felt tallying four rebounds and a steal in 12 minutes of play. BYU only led by three points at the break — not a spot it wanted to be in.

“In the first half, we almost had too much energy and intensity,” coach Mark Pope said about the tight first half.

The Cougars would look to Johnson to lead them in the second half.

Johnson was often a calming presence for the emerging Cougar basketball team throughout the ups and downs of the season and each game. He said he has never been around a team that was more united than the Cougars were this season.

Johnson was the oldest player in NCAA men’s basketball this season.

This was an advantage for Johnson, not because he was bigger or stronger than any other player, but rather a testament to his ability to fight through adversity to be able to play at the highest level of collegiate basketball. 

After graduating from American Fork High School in 2016, Johnson served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Italy. After returning home, Johnson redshirted for one season at Weber State. He then decided to transfer to Salt Lake Community College. 

At SLCC he averaged 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for a season before transferring to BYU to play for Pope.

“When you trace their roads, they’ve been super crooked paths, there have been fits are starts and moving forward and moving backward. They just kept fighting to get here, where nobody thought they could be,” Pope said about Spencer Johnson and Jaxson Robinson.

Johnson ranks eighth in program history in 3-point percentage. Johnson earned an honorable mention for the All-West Coast Conference team for the 2022-23 season, leading conference play in three-point percentage and steals per game. 

It wasn’t ideal for him or BYU in the first half, but Johnson has never let adversity stop him from playing hard. To open up the second half, Johnson showed that calming presence as he came out and immediately hit a three.

“That’s a senior, that’s a senior, that’s what seniors do, seniors are special,” Pope yelled to the bench after the play.

As the catalyst of a 10-0 run, he scored five points, grabbed three rebounds and capped off the run with a behind-the-back assist to Ally Khalifa all two and a half minutes into the second half.

Johnson would stop there, his rebound on the defensive end led to him knocking down another three. Johnson recorded another steal and two assists to cap off an 8-0 run with 10:51 to go.

BYU would take a 25-point lead but Oklahoma State would fight back cutting it to 10 with three minutes to play.

The Cougars would again look to that calming presence.

Johnson had a key assist to Richie Saunders for three and then baited Mike Marsh into an offensive foul. He then knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the BYU lead back to 16.

“We responded well, we didn’t get on our heels, we stayed on our toes,” Johnson said about the second half.

Johnson tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals, securing the third double-double of his career, all three of which came this season. BYU would win 85-71.

After the game, Pope would grab a microphone and speak to the crowd, honoring the seniors. 

“It’s been an absolute dream and such a pleasure to play in front of all of you,” Johnson said to the crowd.

“We’re not done; we still got games to win,” Johnson added.

The Cougars will play Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. MST in Kansas City as a No. 5 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. They will await the winner of Oklahoma State and UCF on Tuesday. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Top Sports Stories

BYU basketball adds another highly rated recruit to roster

BYU basketball adds another highly rated recruit to rosterThings simply haven't slowed down for Kevin Young and company when it comes to recruiting.BYU...

Life as a True Freshman in Division 1 College Football: Tre Alexander lll

Life as a True Freshman in Division 1 College Football: Tre Alexander lllChaotic. Sloppy. Intense.These are the first words that come to mind if...

A look back at BYU’s first year in the Big 12

A look back at BYU's first year in the Big 12Sept. 10, 2021, is a day that BYU fans will remember forever. The atmosphere...

Slow and steady wins the race: Lucas Bons’ climb to become one of the top milers in the country

Slow and steady wins the race: Lucas Bons’ climb to become one of the top milers in the countryKelly Clarkson famously sings, “What doesn’t...
- Advertisement -
Print Friendly, PDF & Email