Saturday was packed with sports. All three local colleges played in very exciting environments. Kansas was in Philadelphia to play Villanova in a packed arena. Missouri played in the annual Braggin’ Rights game in St. Louis to a packed house. Kansas State played Saint Louis in the Sprint Center. We also had three exciting NFL games that had playoff implications. And that’s just the beginning.
Here is your daily Dr. Feelgood…
Kansas lost a fun game at Villanova 56-55 in which the Wildcats shot 24% from behind the arc. Kansas shot just 23% on 3-for-13 shooting behind the arc and 40% on 4-for-10 shooting at the free-throw line. This was the first true road game of the season for Kansas and there were times it looked like it. Overall, Kansas lost by one point on the road to a good team. They have now lost two games – Duke on a neutral court and Villanova on the road – by a total of three points. It was disappointing for Kansas but not a terrible game.
Many were saying early in the game that Kansas had to switch to playing four guards simply because Villanova went on an 8-0 run to take a 15-14 lead. Kansas wasn’t doing awful on defense. In fact, I thought they were playing pretty well. Now, had the Wildcats been hot outside that change might have been necessary but the Jayhawks did a decent job of running the Villanova shooters off of the three-point line, forcing them to attack the lane and more often than not Kansas was making it tough to convert those drives into points.
Villanova took 41 three-point shots in this game but only made 10 of them. Some of that was poor shooting by Villanova and some of that was good defense by the Jayhawks. Villanova might have taken even more shots behind the arc if not for Kansas’ perimeter defense.
It wasn’t one of Devon Dotson’s best game. He was just 5-for-15 from the field and 4-for-7 at the free-throw line. Dotson had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but couldn’t get control of the ball as he was falling away from the basket on a drive. He still got the ball around the basket but it didn’t drop. Dotson had seven rebounds and four assists.
The most unexpected play Dotson was involved in was late in the game when he had the ball stolen from behind him which gave Villanova an easy layup and cut the Jayhawks lead from four to two points. That was completely inexcusable for a quality point guard who some are saying should be a candidate for national player of the year. After Kansas failed to score on its next possession Villanova hit a three in transition to take a one-point lead.
This loss was disappointingly familiar to Kansas fans as they saw plenty of these last season. Instead of making plays to win the game, the Jayhawks found a way to give Villanova points at the end of a one-point loss.
Villanova was able to speed up Kansas’ big men in the first half causing them to miss several shots around the rim and lose control of the ball on other possessions. Udoka Azubuike usually has good hands but not so in this game. At times the Wildcats were not helping on Azubuike but at other times three Villanova players would swarm him.
David McCormack at times looked as good as he has at other times this season but there were possessions where he looked sped up more like he was last season as a freshman A true road environment seemed to cause problems but that’s something he should get past as he goes through the Big 12 season.
Marcus Garrett turned his ankle and left the game in the first half before he could make much of an impact on this game. He was 1-for-4 shooting and finished with two points and two rebounds.
Freshman guard Christian Braun was quite impressive. The stage didn’t look too big for him. He was 0-for-2 from behind the arc but he didn’t just settle for those shots. Braun was aggressive going to the basket as well and converting as well as drawing a foul on one of those drives and finished with six points on 3-for-5 shooting. Bill Self was so comfortable with Braun that he had him in the game at the end, partially because Kansas needed to cover Villanova’s outside shooting but also no doubt because of how well he played.
Isaiah Moss has been a slight disappointment so far this season. He was expected to be a quality outside shooter for the Jayhawks but he hasn’t been that and Saturday he was 0-for-5 including 0-for-3 from behind the arc. If this keeps up we will start seeing even more Christian Braun and a lot less of Isaiah Moss. I’m sure Self will give Moss plenty of opportunities to prove his worth in the game but he needs to start having a bigger impact on offense for Kansas because he’s not in there for his defense.
Overall it was a fun game to watch between two good teams. Villanova pulled out a one-point win at home. That’s nothing for Kansas to be upset about. Kansas will be disappointed in missed opportunities but Villanova will no doubt be upset with its outside shooting.
Kansas doesn’t play again until they travel to play Stanford in Palo Alto, California on December 29. That will be their last game before Big 12 play begins at home against West Virginia on January 4. The time for that game will not be determined until the NFL playoff game times are decided for that weekend.
Missouri won the annual Braggin’ Rights game over Illinois 63-56 by out-rebounding one of the best rebounding teams in the country early in the season. The Tigers grabbed 36 rebounds compared to Illinois’ 32. Missouri also held Illinois to 14% 3-point shooting (2-for-14).
In addition to rebounding, this game was about Missouri’s defense. Illinois struggled to get good shots and ended up shooting just 36% from the field.
Missouri’s leading scorer, Mark Smith, didn’t score in this one. That would normally give Tigers fans cause for concern. But Saturday the Tigers were able to put together enough offense without him.
Missouri was carried offensively by just three players and Jeremiah Tilmon wasn’t one of them. Tilmon was a no-show once again for the Tigers. He scored just four points on 2-for-5 shooting. And in a game that Missouri out-rebounded a quality rebounding team, Tilmon accounted for just one of the team’s 36 boards. He fouled out in just 17 minutes including one of his fouls coming on a technical.
Dru Smith scored 19 points on 5-for-10 shooting and 9-for-10 at the free thrown line. Smith was aggressive on both ends of the court and did a little bit of everything. His 19 points and four rebounds led the team in each category and he was tied for second in rebounds just one behind Mitchell Smith and Javon Pickett.
Speaking of Javon Pickett, he came off the bench and was terrific on both ends of the floor. He shot 7-for-13 for 17 points. He was 2-for-3 behind the arc. Pickett also tied for the team lead with six rebounds.
Xavier Pinson was the most efficient scorer for Missouri. Pinson had 14 points in just 21 minutes. He also had four rebounds.
This was a quality win for Missouri before a nine-day layoff for Christmas. They will host Chicago State on December 30. That’s the last game before SEC play begins at Kentucky on January 4.
Kansas State lost to Saint Louis 66-63 at the Sprint Center on Saturday. Both teams are known for tough defense but the shooting percentages were decent for both in this game. Kansas State shot 45% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. Saint Louis shot 51% and 35% respectively. Rebounds were almost identical with the Wildcats pulling down one more than the Billikens.
So what happened that caused Kansas State to lose this game? Well, the Wildcats turned the ball over three more times than Saint Louis. Saint Louis took five more shots than the Wildcats and made five more shots. In the end, it was a close game and the stats reflect that.
Bruce Weber has to take a serious look at his use of Cartier Diarra and David Sloan. Diarra had no assists and six turnovers in 15 minutes. Sloan had eight assists and three turnovers in 28 minutes. Diarra is more of a scorer and rebounder than Sloan but Sloan makes the offense run better. I’ll take a point guard with a lot of assists who doesn’t turn the ball over ahead of just about anything else at that position. Sloan gives Kansas State that but Diarra does not. If Weber insists on playing just one of them, Sloan has to be the pick right now. We did see them on the court at the same time during the game on Saturday. If Diarra can cut down on the turnovers I would like to see them play together more with Sloan doing most of the ball-handling and Diarra as more of a scorer.
Levi Stockard was the best player on the court for Kansas State in this game. He was 5-for-5 from the field and 7-for-9 at the free thrown line. He had just four rebounds though in 28 minutes. His outside shot should help the Wildcats offense if he can be consistent out there.
The Billikens shot 60% from the free-throw line today. They shoot 55% as a team. Kansas State should have been more physical on defense and forced the officials to call more fouls. If they weren’t called then running an offense would have been that much harder for Saint Louis. If they were called then the Billikens would have gone to the line even more where they weren’t comfortable.
Saint Louis is a physical team. Kansas State shot 20-for-23 from the free-throw line. If the Wildcats could have attacked the basket and got to the line even more maybe that could have been a way to tip the score in favor of Kansas State.
Ultimately you have to look at poor decisions and physical mistakes late in the game which took away possessions from Kansas State. Losing to Saint Louis is not an embarrassment. The Billikens are a good team and the win improved them to 10-2 on the season. The frustration for Kansas State and its fans right now is that the Wildcats really didn’t give themselves a chance to win the game at the end of regulation.
Darren Sproles announced his retirement from the NFL after 15 seasons.. He is out for the rest of the season with a torn right hip flexor. Sproles attended college at Kansas State. He spent his first six NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He then played three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He finished with six seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Major League Baseball reached an agreement with the umpires union on a five-year deal that runs through the 2025 season. The deal includes significant increases in pay and retirement benefits. The umpires agreed to cooperate with the development of an automated strike zone. The agreement still needs to be approved by the clubs and umpires union.
Major League Baseball had record revenues in 2019 according to a report by Forbes. MLB had revenue of $10.7 billion in 2019, up from $10.3 billion in 2018. It’s the 17th consecutive season MLB has seen an increase in revenue. Revenue increases are tied to media rights and those are going to continue going higher as a new deal with FOX starts in 2022.
- The Chicago White Sox reached an agreement with LHP Dallas Keuchel on a three-year, $55.5 million contract with a beating fourth year that would increase the contract value to $74 million.
- The Detroit Tigers agreed with 1B CJ Cron on a one-year, $6.1 million contract.
- The Detroit Tigers agreed with Jonathan Schoop on a one-year, $6.1 million contract.
- The New York Mets negotiated Yoenis Cespedes’ salary down from $29.5 million to $11 million due to the circumstances of his injuries. Apparently he was injured doing something prohibited in his contract. The salary will drop to $6 million if he goes on the injured list with a related injury to his ankle or heel.
WHAT I’M WATCHING: Sunday is all about the Chiefs in Chicago on Sunday Night Football. They need a win to maintain the #3 seed in the AFC. I’ll be watching all of the games that are on locally.
SUNDAY PODCAST: I will be recording the podcast late Sunday night after the Chiefs game against the Bears. It’s going to be full of information from the weekend. Subscribe to the Kansas City Sports Monitor podcast wherever you get your podcasts and you won’t miss any episodes.
DROP ME A NOTE: You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. Send me your comments and questions and I might include them in a future column.
Thanks for reading…