Kevin Ware only scored three points in the box score against Duke, but he was on everyone’s mind and his name was uttered in every prayer. With 6:41 left in the first half, Ware suffered one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of collegiate or professional basketball. While contesting a Tyler Thornton three, he landed on his right leg and dropped to the floor in pain. Seconds later, Thorton, already up the court, looked back and winced in horror at the sight of Ware's shin potruding through his skin.
However, with Ware in their hearts and minds, Louisville rallied past Duke and still has the best guard duo advancing the Final Four. Michigan’s duo of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. have the NBA futures ahead of them, but defensively they leave a lot to be desired. Burke and Hardaway have a tendency to get beaten off the dribble while the Wolverines are 40th in defensive efficiency this season. Within the confines of Rick Pitino’s suffocating press, Smith and Siva are two of the best man-to-man defenders in the nation. More importantly, they blanket defenders for 94 feet and penetrate the lane offensively.
When your guards can't stop penetration, your bigs are going to foul. Ryan Kelly, No. 3.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 31, 2013
After a halftime tune-up, Duke sputtered as Louisville’s lightning-quick guards stepped on the gas, pumped up the nitrous and pulled away with a 50-31 second half surge.
Prior to Ware’s injury, Russ Smith had just four points. After wiping away tears while teammates bawled on the court face down, Smith turned on the jets and balled out. He finished with 23 and was escorted to the line 12 times, making nine of them.
Louisville’s guards drive the lane like a pair of Bugatti’s cruising downhill on the Autobahn. Fortunately, there was no speed limit because Duke’s family sedan guards couldn’t keep up. Neither could any of their previous tourney foes or their Big East competition. Smith does the scoring, Siva dishes. Defensively, they're Hummers pushing other guards off the road. They beat the brakes off of guards dating back to the Big East championship against Syracuse or escorted them into the path of post traffic cop Gorgiu Dieng. Dieng finished with 14 points against Duke, but most of them were off of assists from a penetrating Siva.
Unfortunately, the third guard in their rotation, who played his high school ball in Georgia, won’t be joining them. However, he will be an emotional spark plug.
Chane Behanan is wearing injured teammate Kevin Ware's jersey. twitter.com/BuzzFeedSports…— BuzzFeed Sports (@BuzzFeedSports) March 31, 2013
Spoke to NYC orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tony Wanich on Ware: "If everything went perfectly, you could see him back on the court in 3 months."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) March 31, 2013
I can't even get myself together. I don't even wanna watch the rest of this game. His life just change— Michael Bush (@michaelbush29) March 31, 2013
Kudos, Cardinals. Arena roaring as somehow, after the most gruesome injury you'll ever see, UL goes up 31-30 on Duke.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 31, 2013
Watching Duke/ Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware.— Joe Theismann (@Theismann7) March 31, 2013
A prayer for Kevin Ware. I'll never forget seeing that from 15 feet away. I wish I could. Simply horrifying. Has me shaken, honestly.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 31, 2013
Pitino kneeling now, wiping tears away.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 31, 2013
Chane Behanan is sobbing on the bench.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 31, 2013
One of Louisville's assistant immediately jumped up and ran away from the court screaming, "Oh, God, no!"— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 31, 2013