Kentucky falls to 14-seed Oakland in major March Madness bracket-buster

One blue blood has already exited March Madness.

And the NCAA Tournament quickly has one of its breakout stars.

No. 3-seeded Kentucky was stunned by No. 14 Oakland, 80-76, on Thursday night in its first-round clash at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Jack Gohlke reacts during Oakland’s win over Kentucky on March 21. 2024. Getty Images

John Calipari reacts during Kentucky’s loss to Oakland on March 21, 2024. Getty Images

The first round featured a few milder upsets earlier in the day, including No. 11 Duquesne beating No. 6 BYU and No. 11 Oregon beating No. 6 South Carolina, but Kentucky later found itself on the wrong side of what might already be the upset of the year.

The Grizzlies led almost the entire game, never letting the Wildcats get over the hump.

Grizzlies guard Jack Gohlke, who spent the first five seasons of his collegiate career with Division II program Hillsdale before transferring to Oakland for the final year of his eligibility, led all scorers, erupting for 32 points — nearly all on 3-pointers.

“It’s just something I’ve worked so hard for my whole career,” Gohlke said in his on-court interview after the win. “Coach just instills the confidence in me, gives me the freedom to go out there and play and influence the game in a positive way. I’m just having fun. … It’s a dream. This is why players work so hard, to get to this stage.”

Jack Gohlke shoots during Oakland’s win over Kentucky on March 21. 2024. Getty Images

He shot 10-for-20 from 3-point range, seven of which came in the first half.

Gohlke did not attempt any non 3-pointer field goals.

The Horizon League sixth man of the year, Gohlke entered the game with the second-most 3-point attempts in the country, and rose to No. 1 with his effort Thursday night.

“This guy right here,” Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said while motioning to Gohlke during his on-court interview when asked how his Grizzlies pulled off the upset. “He had no conscious. We talked all week, just go shoot it baby, you’re the best. And he’s the best, and he proved it to the world tonight.

“I said ‘this is what we wanted, this stage.’ We wanted Kentucky because they’re the best. So we wanted that and we wanted this stage, and our kids came though.”

DQ Cole #10 of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies reacts after scoring a three pointer against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 21, 2024. Getty Images

Trey Townsend added 17 points for Oakland.

As a team, though the majority came from Gohlke, Oakland shot a whopping 48.4 percent from behind the arc.

“We’re not a Cinderella,” Gohlke said.

Antonio Reeves led Kentucky with 27 points.

Kentucky coach John Calipari is now 1-4 in last five tournament games.

“We win all close games,” Kampe said. “You heard the huddle, right? That’s all we said in the huddle, ‘we win close games.’ When you’ve got great kids with great character, that’s how you win close games.”

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