Sporting Kansas City started its season off with a win in Vancouver. Kansas defeated Kansas State in a game that was much closer than most expected. Missouri fought hard but lost to Mississippi State. The Royals got another nice outing from a potential bullpen piece when Greg Holland threw a perfect inning.
Here is your daily Dr. Feelgood…
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting opened its season Saturday night in Vancouver. The Whitecaps were the only team to finish below Sporting in 2019. Sporting has a couple of its easier games early in the season so they needed to take advantage and start with a win and they did. Sporting defeated Vancouver 3-1.
Sporting added a lot of new players for the 2020 season. Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda were two of those players. Both scored a goal in this game and Erik Hurtado added a late goal to seal it in extra time of the second half.
Alan Pulido scored the first goal of the season with a nice header off the post.
Gadi Kinda had the best goal of the day on a beautiful shot into the corner of the net.
With Sporting up 2-1, Tim Melia made the save of the game to preserve the lead. Later, Erik Hurtado added a goal late to seal the win for Sporting on an assist from Gerso Fernandes after he made a beautiful spin move to beat his defender.
Sporting did not allow a late goal like we saw way too many times in 2019.
Sporting plays again next Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park against the Houston Dynamo. Houston finished one spot above Sporting in the Western Conference last season.
KANSAS AT KANSAS STATE
Kansas State had more balanced scoring than Kansas, but Devon Dotson’s 25 points carried Kansas to a 62-58 win in Manhattan. The game was closer than expected because of the Wildcats’ energy for the game and limited playing time for Udoka Azubuike due to turning his ankle in the first half. Azubuike eventually returned to the game but finished with just six points in 20 minutes.
It was disappointing to see so many empty seats. Kansas State was facing its rival who was the number one ranked team in the nation. There was a lot of bad blood between the teams after their previous game in Lawrence. And Kansas State couldn’t pack the arena? Has the season worn on Kansas State fans that much? It would appear so.
Kansas State played with more energy than we have seen most of the season. That helped them on defense. I have seen some comments about how the Wildcats will be kicking themselves that they could have had a better season if they had put that much energy into each of their games but I think that is simplistic thinking. Yes, players and teams should be giving their maximum effort every time they take the court, but this took more than just 100% effort. It took a special performance by the Wildcats and there is no way this Wildcats team can give that effort every game. No team can do that. Their struggles throughout the season wore on them. This game was the exception and you can’t get that up for every game, especially when it’s Texas or another team and not Kansas that you are playing.
Devon Dotson was just 1-for-3 from behind the arc, better than his average, but it was his attacking the basket that helped the Jayhawks beat the Wildcats. Dotson finished 7-for-8 inside the arc and 8-for-8 at the free-throw line.
Kansas State did a pretty good job playing really physical with Udoka Azubuike. So even without the energy, I’m not sure Azubuike would have had his typical game of late.
Kansas got a gift shortly after this game when they learned that Baylor lost at TCU. That result gives the Jayhawks sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with two games to play.
Missouri’s first game against Mississippi State this season ended in a 72-45 loss on the road. But Missouri has been playing better lately than they were when these two played the first time. The Tigers gave it everything they had but lost 67-63.
Xavier Pinson struggled shooting but scored 20 points. He was just 3-for-10 behind the arc and 4-for-11 inside the arc. So, many will blame others on the team but you can’t shoot that poorly and expect to win.
Dru Smith shot much better scoring 19 points.
Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon were both in the rotation but it didn’t help much at all. Is this team actually worse with those two on the court and practically eliminating minutes for Parker Braun, Torrence Watson, and Tray Jackson? It is worth a discussion.
It’s still too early to take much from the offensive performances in Spring Training but Ryan McBroom and Kyle Isbel have had some encouraging performances early on.
Pitching is where it’s at in baseball so we look closer at those performances right now. In this game, Greg Holland pitched another perfect inning with two strikeouts. He continues to look like someone who should be in the bullpen this season.
The Chiefs are reportedly not going to exercise their option on Cam Erving for 2020. That would clear an additional $3.2 million for the team.
TODAY: The Royals take on the Oakland Athletics at 2:05 pm. I’m looking to see how the bullpen continues to develop.
PODCAST: The Thursday podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Tonight I will be recording the next podcast. I will talk Kansas vs Kansas State, Missouri’s loss to Mississippi State, Sporting Kansas City and more.
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