INDIANAPOLIS — With tears in their eyes and Kevin Ware in their hearts, there was no way the Louisville men’s basketball team was losing Sunday afternoon.
Russ Smith scored 23 points, 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.
As the final seconds ticked down, Chane Behanan put Ware’s jersey on 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.”
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.
“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.”
Michigan 79, Florida 59
ARLINGTON, Texas — Led by Big Ten Conference Player of the Year Trey Burke and sharp-shooting guard Nik Stauskas, one of three freshman starters, Michigan dominated Florida right from tipoff, scoring the game’s first 13 points and routing the Gators in the South Regional final.
“A lot of guys said we were really young and that we couldn’t get here,” said Burke, a sophomore and the South Regional Most Outstanding Player. “We’re here now and we still have unfinished business.”
The last time Michigan made it this far was the Fab Five era of the early 1990s, what until now had been considered the program’s glory years.
Stauskas scored 22 points while making all six of his 3-pointers and Burke scored 15. Mitch McGary, a 6-foot-10 freshman, had 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Wolverines are headed to Atlanta to play Syracuse (30-9) in a national semifinal game Saturday.
Michigan hadn’t reached the Final Four since consecutive national championship game appearances in 1992 and 1993, the freshman and sophomore seasons of the Fab Five — Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King.