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Mark Pope Provides Injury Update On BYU Guard Spencer Johnson

Nov 29, 2022, 10:42 PM
Spencer Johnson, BYU Basketball...
BYU guard Spencer Johnson has missed two games due to a knee injury. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – When will BYU get starting guard Spencer Johnson back from an injury? The 6-foot-5 starter missed BYU’s 100-70 victory over Westminster on Tuesday night.

He continues to be sidelined from a knee injury during the Thanksgiving night loss to Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.

BYU has managed without Johnson putting together a 2-0 record. One of those games included a 23-point comeback victory over Dayton to escape Atlantis without a winless record.

So in the short term, BYU has been OK without Johnson. But long-term, they need Johnson, who has emerged as one of the clutch shotmakers for this year’s BYU squad.

Injury update on Spencer Johnson

After Tuesday’s win over Westminster, BYU coach Mark Pope, who won the 150th game of his coaching career, was asked about a timeline for Johnson’s return.

“Well, he’s convinced he’s coming back Saturday,” Pope said. “Doctors telling us it might be long. So it’s going to be a day-by-day kind of thing and kind of feel him out. Hopefully, he’s not gone any more games. But for all of the games he’s gone, we have to find some other answers because he’s the bedrock of us defensively, and he was our leading scorer. So we’re gonna have to have a bunch of guys step up.”

Until Johnson suffered his injury in the Butler game, he played the best basketball of his collegiate career. A former JUCO transfer from Salt Lake Community College, Johnson gained 18 pounds and transformed his body to become a starter for the first time in his BYU career.

Johnson averaged 11 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in his six starts this season.

Noah Waterman is now in the starting lineup

Since Johnson has been out, Mark Pope has inserted 6-foot-11 stretch forward Noah Waterman into the starting five.

Waterman scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field in the blowout win over Westminster.

“Since Spence is out, hopefully, he gets back pretty soon. We definitely need him. He’s a great player and great defender,” said Waterman. “But my role has changed a little bit, just trying to fit with the starting lineup. I think I’m doing pretty well. Right now, I just feel comfortable, and they are giving me a lot of confidence.”

‘Pretty brutal setback’

Spencer Johnson is one of the few players that was a returner from last year’s team. He joins Trevin Knell, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery, as a veteran player sidelined with injuries.

“It’s hard because we’re trying so hard to get better, and this is certainly a pretty brutal setback,” Pope said on the injury to Johnson. “But we’ll keep pushing forward and give other guys a chance to get more opportunity and different opportunities to play.”

Will freshman Tanner Toolson earn more minutes?

One of those players that could benefit from the opportunity to see more minutes is freshman Tanner Toolson. Toolson, a former Mr. Basketball in the state of Washington, made his debut during the Westminster win. The son of former BYU guard Andy Toolson, Tanner, scored 10 points in 19 minutes of action.

“That was kind of the window of opportunity. I know that Tanner and Andy talked about it a lot over the last few days as well as I talked to Tanner a lot about it. There’s no way to know how things are going to work out. But he feels ready to take a swing at this, and I certainly have a lot of confidence in him,” Pope said on Toolson. “I don’t know exactly what he is right now. But I do have a good sense on what I think of what he can become. I think he can become a really special player. So he’s gonna run with it. Let’s go.”

BYU is 5-3 on the season and will be back in action on Saturday against South Dakota at Vivint Arena. Tip-off is at 1:30 p.m. on BYUtv and KSL NewsRadio.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch and his BYU basketball coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Mark Pope Provides Injury Update On BYU Guard Spencer Johnson