It was a busy day in Kansas City sports on Saturday. All three local teams played their final regular-season game and all were winners. Sporting played its home opener at Children’s Mercy Park and excited the home crowd. The Royals got a terrific starting pitching performance.
Here is your daily Dr. Feelgood…
After trailing Baylor for most of the conference season, Kansas won the Big 12 by two games. The Jayhawks won at Texas Tech 66-62 on Sunday for their 16th consecutive win.
This Kansas team is better than any other Kansas team in recent memory. Udoka Azubuike and Marcus Garrett are the best inside and outside defenders since Bill Self has been at Kansas. This team struggles shooting three-point shots but they seem to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
It’s going to take a special performance for anyone to beat Kansas. It’s a struggle for their opponents to keep up with the Jayhawks, not because of Kansas’ scoring but because their defense is so stingy. When a Kansas opponent uses all of their energy to come from behind and tie Kansas, the Jayhawks often go back up 4-6 points in just a couple of possessions.
Kansas enters the Big 12 tournament as the top seed. They don’t play again until Thursday at 1:30 pm. They will play the winner of #8 Oklahoma State and #9 Iowa State. The Jayhawks have likely locked in the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament regardless of what they do in the Big 12 tournament.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City made several changes in the offseason after a miserable 2019 season. The moves look spectacular through the first two games. Don’t get too carried away with things. Although Sporting has looked terrific in its first two games, both games came against teams that struggled in 2019. However, Sporting also had a bad 2019 season so this early season play looks very promising.
Sporting hosted Houston in the home opener at Children’s Mercy Park and Sporting walked away with their second consecutive victory 4-0.
Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda both scored for the second consecutive game. Roger Espinoza and Khiry Shelton scored the other two goals for Sporting.
The first several minutes of the game were played in Sporting’s end of the field as Houston attacked early and often. But once Sporting settled in and took control of the game they never gave it back.
Alan Pulido scored the first goal of the game once again for Sporting and once again it came within the first 17 minutes of the game.
Sporting took 17 shots compared to Houston’s 9. Houston had four yellow cards in the first 35 minutes as they were very physical with Sporting. They ended with six yellow cards in the game. Sporting had just two: Ilie Sanchez and Gadi Kinda.
Sporting has its toughest game of the early season next Saturday when they travel to Atlanta to play the 2-0 Atlanta United FC. Sporting will then travel to San Jose the following weekend and won’t be back in Kansas City until Saturday, March 28.
Missouri needed a win and an Arkansas loss to avoid playing on the first day of play in the SEC tournament and that’s exactly what they got on Saturday. Arkansas lost by eight at Texas A&M. Missouri dominated Alabama at home on Senior Day on its way to a 69-50 win.
Missouri only scored 69 points and only got 9 from Xavier Pinson but the Tigers’ defense is what won this game. Missouri held Alabama to 16% shooting behind the arc and forced the Crimson Tide into 18 turnovers.
Teams do not have to finish at or above .500 to be invited to the NIT so Missouri still has a chance at a traditional postseason tournament. The Tigers would be wise to accept any postseason invitation since the practice time can only help.
Missouri plays Texas A&M at 6:00 pm on Thursday. The Tigers lost both games against Texas A&M in conference play. They dropped the game in Columbia 66-64 but were blown out 68-5 in College Station.
Kansas State finished last in the Big 12 conference regular season by two games behind Iowa State. It would have been four if they had not beat the Cyclones on Saturday but Xavier Sneed carried the Wildcats to a 79-63 win.
Xavier Sneed set a career-high in points in the first half and ended up with 31 in the game.
The Wildcats held the Cyclones to just 10% shooting behind the arc.
Kansas State plays TCU at 8:30 pm Wednesday.
Royals 7, Cincinnati 2
Nicky Lopez, Ryan McBroom, Salvador Perez, and Cam Gallagher each had two hits for Kansas City in their win over Cincinnati.
McBroom and Ryan O’Hearn, battling for the first base job, both hit their third home run of the spring. The Royals are talking about possibly keeping both on the roster and using them in a platoon situation. Both are having terrific springs.
Danny Duffy allowed just one hit in four innings and had six strikeouts to go with it. He was pleased with his outing but said that he needs to work on his changeup. Mike Matheny was very happy with Duffy’s performance. Duffy’s four innings are more than any Royals pitcher has pitched so far this spring.
Ian Kennedy pitched 1 1/3 scoreless inning. Kennedy allowed two hits.
Kris Bubic gets the start today against the Chicago White Sox.
– The surgeon who operated on Adalberto Mondesi was pleased with his recent examination of the Royals’ shortstop. Mondesi is on track to be ready for opening day. Mondesi did experience some soreness recently that created a pause in his rehabilitation. Don’t forget, it was Ned Yost who decided to play Mondesi late in 2019 when he was still recovering from a shoulder injury. Yost told Mondesi to not slide or dive for balls which isn’t natural. The Royals are responsible for the situation they are dealing with right now.
– Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch were reassigned to Minor League camp.
IN THE NEWS…
– The Los Angeles Chargers agreed with RB Austin Ekeler on a four-year, $24.5 million contract.
TODAY: The Royals face the Chicago White Sox at 3:05 pm.
PODCAST: In the Thursday podcast I discussed Kansas’ response to the NCAA notice of allegations, Mike Krzyzewski’s recent comments, ESPN’s attempt to change Monday Night Football, the Royals and more. Tonight I will be talking about the conference tournaments starting this week and look at the battles for the Royals’ roster out of Spring Training.
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