Another bracket buster: Oakland beats Kentucky in shocking upset

Jack Gohlke made 10 3-pointers to help 14th-seeded Oakland beat the Kentucky Wildcats.

PITTSBURGH — Jack Gohlke made 10 3-pointers and 14th-seeded Oakland delivered the first true shock of this year’s March Madness, beating third-seeded Kentucky 80-76 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

The Grizzlies (24-11) sent the Wildcats (23-10) to another early March exit behind Gohlke, a graduate transfer who finished with 32 points, and some late shot-making by his teammates. Trey Townsend had 17 points for the Horizon League champions. DQ Cole added 12, including a 3 from the corner with 28 seconds left that gave the Grizzlies a four-point lead.

Antonio Reeves led Kentucky with 27 points. Tre Mitchell added 14 and Rob Dillingham scored 10, but the Wildcats and their roster stacked with NBA prospects spent most of the night trying — and failing — to chase down Gohlke.

The 6-foot-3 guard who came to the Grizzlies this season after playing for Division II Hillsdale College made 10 of 20 3-point attempts, seven in the first half. His only other points came after he was fouled — while attempting a 3.

Gokhle cooled off a bit over the final 20 minutes while often getting picked up at halfcourt, but his teammates helped pick up the slack. Oakland never trailed over the final 14:32 to give the program its first victory in the round of 64.

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The Wildcats came in as 13 1/2 point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, but with a poor recent track record in March under John Calipari. Kentucky hasn’t advanced past the tournament’s opening weekend since 2019, an uncomfortably long stretch for Calipari and the second-winningest program in NCAA history.

Calipari said his job is to take the pressure off his young roster’s shoulders and place them on his. It must have felt awfully heavy at times while Gohlke and the Bulldogs kept pace with the second-highest-scoring team in the country.

Gohlke won the Horizon League’s Sixth Man of the Year award thanks to his outside shooting. All but eight of his 335 field goal attempts during the regular season were 3s, and he now has made an NCAA-leading 131 this season. He kept firing away against Kentucky, particularly during an electric first half that had the majority of fans at PPG Paints Arena on their feet and the Wildcats on their heels.

Gohlke stuck out his tongue after his fifth 3. When his sixth fell through the net, he turned around and mimicked Michael Jordan’s famous shoulder shrug during the 1992 NBA finals. Gohlke — who of course wears No. 3 — then banked in his seventh as the Grizzlies built a 38-35 halftime lead that had everyone in the crowd not wearing Kentucky blue roaring, just as longtime Oakland coach Greg Kampe hoped.

That momentum carried all the way to the final buzzer as the Grizzlies gave the NCAA’s longest-tenured coach a moment he’d been building toward over 40 years with the program.

Gohlke ended the game with the ball in his hands after one final Kentucky miss as the Grizzlies became the 23rd 14 seed to win a first-round game since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

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