Until midway through the first half of Sunday's Louisville/Duke Elite Eight matchup, the big story of the 2013 NCAA Tournament was Florida Gulf Coast. Then Louisville guard Kevin Ware, while trying to prevent a Duke three-pointer, landed on his left leg and it broke.

And it was gruesome. And "gruesome" is an understatement. I saw it happen in instant replay and then CBS decided not to show it again. It was that grotesque. His leg, between his knee and his ankle, just bent into something close to a 90-degree angle. It made me nauseous. I'm not attaching it to this blog because it's so shocking, but if you really want to see what happened and you didn't, click here.

Twitter was lighting up with folks who were nearby and said that some of the Louisville players who were on the bench and saw it happen up close had to throw up. His teammates were in tears. Coach Rick Pitino was in tears. Announcer Jim Nantz was audibly shaken up and he's an old pro. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski looked pale. Duke players who saw Ware land were grimacing and covering their eyes. And a once-raucous Lucas Oil Stadium fell eerily silent.

 

 

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Personally, I have never seen an injury this gruesome in a basketball game in my lifetime. Just horrific. But Ware wasn't interested in tears or sympathy. Before he was taken, on a stretcher, to a nearby hospital, he repeatedly told Coach Pitino and his team to "Win the game!"

And, by golly, that's what they did.

It turned into the Peyton Siva/Russell Smith Extravaganza featuring fine supporting work from Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, and Mike Marra. It was quite a show.

Yeah, the Cardinals were initially very shaken up, as expected, and Duke was able to keep it close until early in the second half. And then...WOW! A performance the likes of which I have seldom seen in an NCAA Tournament unfolded.

The score was tied 42-42 and then, suddenly, Louisville systematically ran the Duke Blue Devils out of the building. A 28-10 run anyone? Okay, how about a 43-21 run to finish the game, for a final score of 85-63.

ESPN analyst Dana O'Neil tweeted, "Emotion is a funny thing. Can keep you down or get you going. Louisville chose the latter." I'll say. It was an extraordinary performance.

Louisville is the only remaining 1-seed in the tournament and will play Wichita State Saturday night in the Final Four. Michigan and Syracuse also advanced to the national semifinals. The Cardinals are the heavy favorites to cut down the nets.

After the game, Coach Pitino, Siva, and Smith gave their accounts of what happened at the time of the injury:

[video courtesy of foxsports.com]