Motivated by a fallen teammate the Louisville Cardinals dominated the second half of the Midwest regional final en route to a 85-63 win over Duke.
Shortly before then end of the first half back-up Louisville point guard Kevin Ware sustained one of the most visibly gruesome injuries in the history of televised sports, suffering a compound fracture of his right leg. An emotional Rick Pitino attempted to gather the composure of his players with a huddle, but the impact from the injury left a noticeable silence in the arena.
The shaken Cardinals took a 3 point lead into the half but came out of the break fired up, going on a 20-4 tear led by Gorugi Dieng, Peyton Siva, and Russ Smith, as the Cardinals scored 50 points on 59.3 % shooting in the 2nd half. Smith led all scorers with 23 points, while Diva added 10 of his 16 in the second half, along with 14 points and 11 rebounds for Dieng. Mason Plumlee added 17-points and 12 boards in the losing cause for Duke.
For coach Pitino the win marks revenge from the last time one of his teams played Duke, the famous 1992 Elite 8 game where Christian Laettner sunk his Kentucky Wildcats in dramatic fashion.
The No. 1 overall seed in the tournament advances to their second straight Final Four, where they will face Wichita State in Saturday’s National Semifinal in Atlanta.
After sealing the win, the Cardinals celebrated with Ware’s 5 jersey, and opted not to cut down the mesh.