Best Performances of the First Day of the First Round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament

March 22nd, 2024

by Alan Lu

Here are some of the best and most notable performances from last night’s games in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

Oakland’s Jack Gohlke turned in a marvelous performance, as he lead his team to a stunning, upset win over Kentucky last night. And Gohlke did a tribute to Michael Jordan’s famous Jordan shrug that he did back when Jordan made six threes in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals. (Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports, via Hardwood Heroics)

Oakland’s 6-3 senior guard, Jack Gohlke was tremendous last night, as he scored 32 points and made 10 threes to help lift his team to a stunning, upset win over Kentucky. He is a sharpshooter that thrived at making threes both off the catch and dribble, really excelled as a movement shooter, and his sharpshooting prowess could allow him to carve out a role as a shooting specialist similar to former journeyman guard, Troy Daniels in the NBA.

Highlights of Jack Gohlke’s 32-point, 10 three-pointers made performance in Oakland’s stunning upset win over Kentucky in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. (Source: Twitter/@BallisLife)

In addition, Trey Townsend had 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists to help lead Oakland to a stunning win over Kentucky. DQ Cole had 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, and he made all three of his threes last night. Antonio Reeves scored 27 points and made 5 threes in Kentucky’s loss to Oakland.

Jermaine Couisnard scored 40 points and had 6 assists to lead Oregon to a double-digit win over South Carolina. N’Faly Dante scored 23 points for Oregon. Meechie Johnson scored 24 points for South Carolina in his team’s loss to Oregon.

Tennessee’s 6-6 senior swingman, Dalton Knecht scored 23 points, made 4 threes, and hauled in 8 rebounds in his team’s blowout win over Saint Peter’s.

In the Illinois-Morehead State game, Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 26 points and dished out 4 assists to get his team a double-digit win over Morehead State. Dain Dainja scored 21 points off the bench and made all nine of his field goals, and he also hauled in 8 rebounds. Morehead State’s Riley Minix and Jordan Lathon combined for 50 of their team’s 69 points in their team’s loss to Illinois.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot had 20 points and 15 rebounds in his team’s blowout win over Wagner. RJ Davis scored 22 points, and Jae’Lyn Withers had 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists off the bench.

Caleb Love had 18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals to lead his team to a double-digit win over Arizona, and all five of Arizona’s starters scored in double figures.

Tamin Lipsey had 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting, made 3 threes, and dished out 7 assists in his team’s win over South Dakota State. Milan Momcilovic had 19 points, made 3 threes, and had 5 rebounds to help Iowa State get the win. Keshon Gilbert had 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, 5 assists, and 3 steals in this game.

Creighton’s prospect trio all turned in strong performances, as Ryan Kalkbrenner had 23 points, made a three, and had 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, Trey Alexander had 19 points and 5 rebounds, and Baylor Scheierman had 13 points, made 3 threes, and had 13 rebounds in his team’s win over Akron. Enrique Freeman scored 21 points and hauled in 14 rebounds in his team’s loss to Creighton.

All five of Kansas’ starters scored in double figures in their surprisingly close win over Samford. Hunter Dickinson had 19 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks, and 2 steals, and K.J. Adams had 20 points and 6 assists, Nicolas Timberlake had 19 points, 3 assists, and made 3 threes, and Johnny Furphy had 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists in this game. Samford’s 6-11 freshman center, Riley Allenspach scored 15 points and made 4 three-pointers off the bench, and he is a promising stretch big that could project to be a possible second round pick in the 2025 draft.

Graham Ike had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his team’s win over McNeese, and he made all six of his field goals in this game.

Duquesne’s 6-2 senior point guard, Dae Dae Grant scored 19 points to help lead his team to an upset win over BYU. Jaxson Robinson scored 25 points and made 5 threes off the bench in his team’s loss.

N’Faly Dante scored 23 points and had 15 free throw attempts to help lead Oregon to a win over South Carolina. Meechie Johnson scored 24 points and made 4 threes in his team’s loss.

D.J. Horne had 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists to help lead NC State to a double-digit win over Texas Tech. Mohamed Diarra had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and D.J. Burns also scored 16 points.

DaRon Holmes II had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals in Dayton’s close win over Nevada. Koby Brea scored 15 points and made 5 threes to help his team get the victory.

Washington State’s 6-9 senior big man, Isaac Jones had 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in his team’s win over Drake. Jaylen Wells scored 17 points, made 3 three-pointers, and he also had 9 rebounds and 3 assists.

Tyson Walker scored 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting in Michigan State’s win over Mississippi State.

Other Notes:

No Tournament for Top Ranked Prospects? (A pun based on the movie, No Country for Old Men)

Kentucky’s starting lineup choices have been baffling to say the least, and it’s unclear as to why DJ Wagner kept his starting spot, as he has played much worse than Dillingham and Sheppard all season long, and Wagner was held scoreless in his team’s surprising first round loss to Oakland. Because of Kentucky’s very questionable lineup choices and substitution patterns, it is reasonable to suggest that John Calipari has lost a step or two since his days of winning the 2012 title back when he had Anthony Davis. (Photo: Denny Simmons/The Tennessean, via Wildcat Blue Nation)

After Colorado’s 6-8 freshman forward, Cody Williams was held scoreless in his team’s First Four win over Boise State, Kentucky is managing to be the team that may keep Williams’s draft stock afloat and within the top 5 shouting range, just by playing as poorly or worse than he did in their loss to Oakland.

Kentucky’s guards (aside from the brilliant play of Antonio Reeves) were abysmal last night. D.J. Wagner was held scoreless, and he was somehow the starting point guard, even though Dillingham and Reed Sheppard have proven to be clearly better than him all season long. Wagner was held scoreless on 0 for 5 shooting in 17 minutes, and he had a very bad game at an inopportune time. There is a real concern about Wagner’s lack of basketball IQ and instincts, along with his inconsistent jump shot and decision making, and even his elite athleticism may not be enough to offset the concerns, which could cause him to slide to the second round on draft day.

It was equally baffling to see Reed Sheppard not look to take many shots, and unable to make them when he tried. He wasn’t on the floor much in crunch time, except in the last minute of the game when they felt they needed a three to try to get back in the game. Sheppard scored just 3 points on 1 of 5 shooting in 26 minutes, and he was nowhere near the dominant player that he was against Ole Miss (Ole Miss did not make this year’s NCAA Tournament).

Surprisingly, Sheppard was tentative, he struggled to get his own shot off, and his lack of elite athleticism could make it tough for him to transition as easily to the NBA. While he’s played very well all season long and showed a great feel for the game against Ole Miss, Sheppard was nowhere near the player he was against Ole Miss in this game.

Robert Dillingham wasn’t very good against Oakland either, but he did play better than both Sheppard and Wagner. Dillingham scored just 10 points on 2 of 9 shooting, but he did have 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Aside from making one smooth stepback three late in the game, he struggled to make shots consistently, and neither he nor Sheppard looked the part of being top five picks, although the college game is considerably slower paced than the NBA game.

Kentucky really struggled to guard the three-ball against Oakland, and it was a little baffling to see Zvonimir Ivisic get crunch time minutes, as even though he is a very tall center that has some skills, at this stage, he’s pretty much a project player as he’s been inconsistent, extremely undisciplined on defense, and is highly foul prone. Kentucky hasn’t been able to get consistent play from their big men this season as both Ivisic and Aaron Bradshaw have been very foul prone.

Tre Mitchell had 14 points and 13 rebounds in his team’s loss, and Ugonna Onyenso had 5 blocks in 23 minutes and had only committed one foul in this game, so perhaps Onyenso should’ve played more in crunch time, or maybe Kentucky could’ve experimented with going to a small-ball lineup with Mitchell and Onyenso rotating at the five, Edwards and Thiero rotating at the four, and then with Reeves, Sheppard, and Dillingham as the three small guards, with the idea to switch out on screens to prevent Oakland from getting open threes. But overall, it is a fair point to wonder if that would really matter anyways, because Kentucky lost and they are no longer in the tournament. Also, maybe Kentucky’s early exit was something we should’ve seen coming, because as cited from this Sports Illustrated article, Kentucky was not even in the top 100 on defense according to KenPom.

All in all, those are my thoughts on the notable performances on the first day of the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Thanks for reading.

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