Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 26, 2013

Former Jaguar Smith nearly propels Minnesota to upset of No. 8 Syracuse

Jay Neal
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE —

There was actually at least two games of paramount interest taking place at the Curtis Carroll Fieldhouse on the Jacksonville College campus Monday evening.

The first one was the Lady Jaguars non-conference affair against a travel team from Huntsville that took place on the deck of the arena.

The other was being played over 3,800 miles away at Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii before a nationally televised audience.

Hunkered down in front of a modest-size television set in his office in the lobby of the fieldhouse sat JC's head men's basketball coach Jody Bailey.

Now, normally Bailey would be found courtside rooting the college's womens team on to victory, but not on this night.

That's because one of Bailey's former players, Malik Smith (Boston, Mass.) was darn near leading the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a stunning upset over No. 8-ranked Syracuse in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

Smith, a Jaguar, two seasons ago and a first-year Gopher, dropped in a team-best 16 points, but it wasn't quite enough as the Orangemen held on to win 75-67.

“I've got to watch my boys,” Bailey said with pride during a commercial break. “To see kids leave Jacksonville College and have the court skills to compete at the (NCAA) Division I level is something to savor and to take pride in.”

Another jag-ex Nelson Kirksey (Pittsburgh, PA) also saw D-I action Monday as his Missouri-Kansas City team ventured into Ames, Iowa and suffered a 110-51 defeat at the hands of No. 17-ranked Iowa State.

Kirksey, a senior, knocked down 11 points to go with four rebounds for the Kangaroos (1-4).

“We're very proud of Nelson's accomplishments also,” Bailey said. “When you look at the Malik Smiths and the Nelson Kirkseys I think it can be said that there are some really good things going on, both academically and athletically, here at Jacksonville College.”