Advertisement

Jack Gohlke torches Kentucky as 14th-seeded Oakland sends No. 3 Wildcats to another stunning NCAA exit

Kentucky's NCAA tournament woes have continued in stunning fashion.

On Thursday, the culprit was Jack Gohlke, who torched the Wildcats with 10 3-pointers in a 32-point effort to lead 14th-seeded Oakland to an 80-76 win over the third-seeded Wildcats.

The loss marks another stunning NCAA disappointment for Kentucky, which hasn't advanced past the tournament's first weekend since 2019. For Gohlke, it was a coming out party on college basketball's biggest stage in his first season playing Division I basketball.

Gohlke, Oakland set tone early

Kentucky was in trouble from the start. A team that ranks 111th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency had trouble containing the Grizzlies as they raced out to a 22-17 lead. Gohlke scored 15 of Oakland's first 22 points, all of them on 3-pointers.

His sixth 3-pointer of the half broke a 25-25 tie and prompted Gohlke to do his best Michael Jordan impression with a shoulder shrug on his way back down the court.

The Grizzlies went into halftime with a 38-35 lead behind 21 points from Gohlke.

Kentucky sharpshooter Reed Sheppard, a projected lottery pick who earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors, countered Gohlke with a scoreless first half. He took one field-goal attempt in the game's first 20 minutes.

The Gohlke show continued after halftime as his 10th 3-pointer of the night gave Oakland a 67-62 lead with 4:43 remaining. Kentucky countered with 18 straight points on 3-pointers in the game's final 7:20 to keep things close down the stretch. A Rob Dillingham 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining cut Oakland's lead to 75-74 and put the pressure squarely on the Grizzlies.

DQ Cole fends off Kentucky rally

They responded. This time, it wasn't Gohlke, but junior guard DQ Cole who answered. Cole set up in the left corner on Oakland's ensuring possession. Rocket Watts attacked the basket from the left wing, drawing Cole's defender. Watts then kicked it out to Cole, who sank a wide open 3-pointer to extend Oakland's lead to 78-74.

But the game wasn't quite over. After a Trey Townsend free throw, Justin Edwards cut Oakland's lead to 79-76 with a layup on the other end with four seconds remaining.

The Wildcats then sent Townsend to the line again. He missed his first free throw, keeping the door open for a miracle Kentucky 3-pointer to tie the game. But he sank the second to put the game out of reach.

When it was done, Gohlke led all scorers with his 32-point effort to etch his name into NCAA lore. He had a message for the rest of the NCAA tournament field.

"We're not a Cinderella," Gohlke told CBS in his postgame interview alongside longtime head coach Greg Kampe.

Townsend and Cole joined Gohlke in double figures. Townsend finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Cole posted 12 points and eight rebounds. He hit all three of his 3-point attempts as the Grizzlies shot 15 of 31 (48.4%) from beyond the arc as a team.

Senior guard Antonio Reeves was Kentucky's best player on the day in a 27-point effort. He did his best to keep the Wildcats afloat while shooting 11 of 18 from the floor, including 5 of 9 from 3-point distance. Tre Mitchell added 14 points and 13 rebounds while Dillingham was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 10 points. Kentucky shot 42.6% from the floor, 32.1% (9 of 28) from 3-point distance, and lost the turnover margin, 11-7.

Sheppard hit his first and only field goal on a 3-pointer with 6:12 remaining. He finished with three points, four assists and two steals while shooting 1 of 5 from the field.

Jack Gohlke etched his name into NCAA tournament lore with 10 3-pointers against Kentucky. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Jack Gohlke etched his name into NCAA tournament lore with 10 3-pointers against Kentucky. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) (Tim Nwachukwu via Getty Images)

More disappointment for Kentucky

The loss adds to a string of NCAA tournament disappointments under head coach John Calipari. The Wildcats lost in the second round last season as a No. 6 seed and lost in the first round as a No. 2 seed to No. 15 seed Saint Peter's the year before in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Kentucky missed the previous NCAA tournament with a 9-16 record.

The Grizzlies advance to face the winner between NC State and Texas Tech in the second round. They largely have Gohlke, a former Division II player, to thank for it.

Gohlke played his first four college seasons with Division II Hillsdale before transferring this season to Oakland as a senior. He entered Sunday's game second in the NCAA in 3-point attempts (327) and makes (121). He left as the nation's leader in both categories after his 10-of-20 effort. He also left with his name etched in NCAA tournament lore.