Share This Page

Louisville overcomes Ware's injury, pummels Duke

| Sunday, March 31, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino celebrates with Chane Behanan, left, and guard Russ Smith (2) after their 85-63 win over Duke in the Midwest Regional final in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Reuters
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (right) talks to Louisville coach Rick Pitino after Cardinals guard Kevin Ware broke his leg in the first half of their NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional on Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — With tears in their eyes and Kevin Ware in their hearts, there was no way Louisville was losing this game.

Russ Smith scored 23, Gorgui Dieng had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, and top-seeded Louisville put aside the shock from Ware's gruesome leg injury to earn a second straight trip to the Final Four with an 85-63 victory over Duke on Sunday afternoon.

As the final seconds ticked down, Chane Behanan put on Ware's jersey and stood at the end of the Louisville bench, screaming. Cardinals fans chanted “Kevin Ware! Kevin Ware!”

“We won this for him,” coach Rick Pitino said. “We were all choked up with emotion for him. We'll get him back to normal. We've got great doctors, great trainers.”

Ware played his high school ball in Georgia and the Final Four is in Atlanta, just adding to the emotion for the victorious Cardinals.

“We talked about it every timeout, ‘Get Kevin home,' ” Pitino said.

This was the first time Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski had met in the regional finals since that 1992 classic that ended with Christian Laettner's improbable buzzer-beater, a game now considered one of the best in NCAA Tournament history.

This game will be remembered, too, but for a very different — and much more somber — reason.

With 6:33 left in the first half, Ware, who has played a key role in Louisville's 14-game winning streak, jumped to try and block Tyler Thornton's 3-point shot.

When he landed, his right leg snapped midway between his ankle and knee, the bone skewing almost at a right angle. Ware dropped to the floor right in front of the Louisville bench and, almost in unison, his teammates turned away in horror. Thornton grimaced, putting his hand to his mouth as he turned around.

Louisville forward Wayne Blackshear fell to the floor and Behanan looked as if he was going to be sick on the court, kneeling on his hands and feet. Luke Hancock patted Ware's chest as doctors worked on the sophomore and Smith walked away, pulling his jersey over his eyes. The arena was silent, and several fans wept and bowed their heads.

Pitino had tears in his eyes as he tried to console his players. Dieng draped an arm around the shoulders of Smith, who repeatedly wiped at his eyes and shook his head. The Cardinals (33-5) gathered at halfcourt to try and regroup before Pitino called them over to the sideline, saying Ware wanted to talk to them before he left.

“Basically, the bone popped out of the skin. It broke in two spots,” Pitino said. “Remember the bone is 6 inches out of his leg, and all he's yelling is ‘Win the game, win the game.' I've never seen anything like that.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.