Making the transition to BYU hasn’t always been smooth for Seneca Knight, but the 6-foot-6 junior forward is making a major impact.

Knight came off the bench to score a season-high 14 points in each of the Cougars’ home victories this week over San Diego and Portland. 

In BYU’s 78-65 triumph over the Pilots Saturday night, he hit two consecutive 3-pointers in the final minute of the half to give the Cougars a five-point lead at intermission. 

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Knight scored 14 points in just 18 minutes of play and he also added three rebounds and an assist. Meanwhile, some of his biggest contributions are on the defensive end.

“Seneca had a great offensive night, making shots. He had a great playmaking night (Thursday),” said coach Mark Pope. “There’s 12 minutes left and he picks up another foul. I thought I needed to take him out of the game. He’s getting to a spot where I need him in the meat of the game. I need to be able to have him. It’s because his defensive numbers are off the charts for us.”

Knight, a transfer from San Jose State and Louisiana State, has had to make an adjustment from playing guard in his previous stops to playing forward for the Cougars. Knight averaged 17.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 2019-20 at SJSU. 

More than anything, he’s just looking to help the Cougars (17-4, 5-1) win games. 

“Just trying to fill voids,” Knight said. “Whether it’s scoring, defending, rebounding, whatever I can do to help this team win, I’m willing to do it.”

Guard Alex Barcello is glad that Knight is settling into his role. 

“He just continues to battle and battle. You know he wants it. That’s why he’s so fun to play with. These guys trust him,” he said. “He had the game he had (Thursday) because he’s bought in that not every day is going to be perfect, not every day is going to be great. But there’s going to be a breakout where he’s going to see some light and then he can keep capitalizing on that. I thought he did really great, seeing him have fun.”

Pope acknowledges that there has been “rough patches” with Knight this season. 

“It’s saying, ‘It’s going to work, it’s going to fit. It’s an adjustment period.’ Not just for Sen but for me also, learning each other,” Pope said. “He’s been so consistent defensively that when guys play that way, you can leave them out there. We know his offensive skill set is unique to us.”

Meanwhile, another BYU reserve that has been crucial to this team is guard Spencer Johnson, who consistently gives the Cougars a lift off the bench — especially on the defensive end.

BYU (17-4, 5-1) at Santa Clara (11-7, 1-2)


Thursday, 9 p.m. MST


Leavey Center


TV: ESPNU


Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM


“I wonder why I ever take him out of the game, really. He is so impactful on the court. He’s not putting up spectacular numbers but he’s taking care of the ball, he’s a good ball-mover right now, and he’ll bang 3s when he needs to,” Pope said.

“He’s really good downhill. His work defensively is such a gift to our team. He just goes out there and disrupts everything. He’s terrific. Every single game, I feel like he’s the unsung hero. He’s doing an incredible job for us.”

Pope likes being able to rely on Knight and Johnson to provide a spark for his team. 

“These guys coming off the bench and taking a stand is so important on our team,” he said. “They change us defensively. They did for sure (Saturday). Sen was awesome.”

This week, BYU, which sits in sole possession of second place in the West Coast Conference, goes back on the road to face Santa Clara Thursday and Pacific Saturday.