Jack Gohlke’s March Madness Heroics: Oakland’s Iconic Upset of Kentucky

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Oakland’s Jack Gohlke Becomes March Madness Icon in Upset of Kentucky

Defense emerged as the paramount concern for the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2024 men’s NCAA tournament, and it took only 40 minutes for the Oakland Grizzlies to underscore why.

In particular, they relied on Jack Gohlke.

A seasoned sixth-year senior, he commenced the evening as a relative unknown on the national stage. However, with a bit of assistance from his newfound comrades, this transfer from Hillsdale College—a Division II institution in Michigan—concluded Thursday with one of the most outstanding three-point shooting displays in the annals of March Madness.

In the process, Gohlke and the Horizon League-champion Grizzlies secured an 80-76 victory, ousting the third-seeded Kentucky team from the Big Dance.

“NO. 14 OAKLAND UPSETS NO. 3 KENTUCKY IN THE 1ST ROUND 😱 THIS. IS. MARCH.,” declared Bleacher Report.

Whether one had been following Oakland’s journey throughout the season or merely glanced at some statistics, the expectation was clear: Gohlke would be launching threes in Pittsburgh.

Gohlke entered the first-round matchup with an impressive 327 three-point attempts for the season. Inside the arc? A mere eight.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Throughout the season, Gohlke only attempted eight two-point shots while averaging 9.6 long-range attempts per game. Despite this, he managed to connect on 37 percent of those three-pointers, contributing 12.2 points per game as a perimeter specialist coming off the bench.

Thursday night saw the 24-year-old deliver an extraordinary performance. Gohlke sank 10 three-pointers—joining the ranks of only five other players in NCAA tournament history to achieve such a feat—and racked up a season-high 32 points, igniting the program’s inaugural first-round triumph in March Madness.

“An all-time great #MarchMadness performance 👏 Take a bow Jack Gohlke 🙌,” hailed NCAA March Madness.

Oakland’s last appearance in the tournament was in 2011, where they narrowly lost to fourth-seeded Texas, 85-81. Prior to that, they had a play-in game victory and a 28-point defeat in 2005, as well as a 23-point loss in 2010. Putting an end to this streak by defeating a prestigious program like Kentucky was a remarkable achievement.

However, Gohlke wasn’t the sole hero. Oakland’s well-drilled zone defense forced the nation’s second-best scoring offense to toil relentlessly. Kentucky struggled to find easy scoring opportunities, managing only a 42.6 shooting percentage, its seventh-lowest of the season.

Seizing a 46-45 lead with 14:38 left on the clock, Oakland never relinquished it, though maintaining the lead was always a tense affair.

Kentucky narrowed the deficit to just one or two points on five occasions in the final eight minutes, but the Grizzlies consistently responded. Whether through defensive stops or crucial three-pointers—such as the clutch shot from Gohlke and two from DQ Cole, including a decisive one in the last minute—Oakland displayed unwavering resolve.

In essence, Oakland exuded fearlessness.

Despite Kentucky’s persistent pressure and a roster teeming with NBA prospects, the 14th-seeded Grizzlies remained resolute, denying UK coach John Calipari a chance at advancing to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive NCAA tournament.

From the outset, an upset seemed plausible.

Kentucky struggled to score in the opening five minutes, while Gohlke embarked on his remarkable performance. He sank threes on consecutive possessions twice during the first half, amassing 21 points by halftime and guiding Oakland to a 38-35 lead.

The standout player of the night exuded unwavering confidence, a trait undoubtedly nurtured by the trust he has earned from Greg Kampe, who has been Oakland’s head coach since 1984.

“Just go shoot it, baby. You’re the best,” Kampe reassured the veteran sharpshooter ahead of the game.

Gohlke duly obliged. And indeed, he proved to be the best.

Regardless of the outcome on Saturday in the second round, he has etched his name into the lore of March Madness. Oakland’s next opponent—No. 11-seeded North Carolina State—must brace themselves to contain him, hoping to prevent him from emulating the celestial performance of Stephen Curry in 2008 at Davidson.

In his postgame interview, Gohlke, in his characteristic humility, offered a quick scouting report: “I’ll be firing again.”

However, stopping him is easier said than done, as Kentucky learned in the most challenging manner possible, with Gohlke emerging as the primary concern for the Wolfpack’s defense.

Kai Soriano

By Kai Soriano

Kai Soriano, hailing from the picturesque archipelago of the Philippines, is not just your average writer. With a flair for capturing the essence of the NFL through words, Kai stands out as a leading NFL Content Writer. Blending his passion for sports with his impeccable writing skills, he delivers content that is both engaging and insightful. Dive into his pieces, and experience the game as if you're right there on the field! 🏈

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