Louisville Cardinals players Chane Behanan (bottom) , Peyton Siva (right) and Russ Smith react after an injury suffered by teammate Kevin Ware (not pictured) in the first half during the finals of the Midwest regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament against the Duke Blue Devils at Lucas Oil Stadium.(Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)
INDIANAPOLIS - After an intense, fast-paced start to the Midwest Regional final, everyone in Lucas Oil Stadium stopped with 6:33 left in the first half when Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome low right leg injury near the Cardinals' bench.
With Louisville leading 21-17, Ware ran out to contest a three-point attempt by Tyler Thornton. Moments after Thornton made the shot, however, there was pandemonium on the court when Ware planted his leg, turned and suffered what looked like a broken bone.
"His bone was sticking out of his shin," said Richard Pitino, Florida International's head coach and former U of L assistant who recruited Ware for the Cards and was sitting about 25 feet from where injury happened. "I'm only 30, but I've never seen something like that. It felt like cancelling the game. You feel almost silly cheering (after that)."
Immediately, medical personnel came out with a stretcher while Louisville players appeared traumatized.
In a terrifying scene, Cardinals guard Russ Smith started crying uncontrollably after seeing Ware while freshman forward Montrezl Harrell was doubled over on the floor, shaking.
Players on Duke's bench also appeared to be shocked about what had just happened.
The game stopped for seven minutes, and Louisville's players gathered around Ware before he was taken out of the arena on a stretcher.
Ware was taken promptly to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
A spokesman for the Cardinals said doctors "got his pain under control now and he's resting comfortably," being prepped for a likely surgery. As the game started back up, Pitino dropped to one knee on the sideline and wiped tears away.
The coach said during a halftime interview on CBS that Ware told the team as he was lying on the court: "Don't worry about me. I'll be OK. You guys go win this thing."
Contributing: The Louisville Courier-Journal