INDIANAPOLIS -- No. 1 overall seed Louisville rallied after guard Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome right leg injury in the first half, and the Cardinals defeated second-seeded Duke 85-63 in the Midwest Regional final Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium to advance to the Final Four.
Ware jumped out to contest a 3-pointer with 6:33 left in the first half and snapped his lower right leg when he landed. He was carted off and a Louisville spokesman said he was taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Teammates were shaken, and the injury led to a lengthy stoppage in play.
Louisville's star guards came up big after the injury to their teammate. Russ Smith scored 23 points and Peyton Siva had 16 points and four assists for the Cardinals (33-5), who will play Wichita State in the national semifinals next Saturday. It will be Louisville coach Rick Pitino's seventh trip to the Final Four.
Mason Plumlee led the Blue Devils (30-6) with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Duke's Seth Curry, who scored 29 points in the regional semifinal against Michigan State on Friday and had averaged 24 points in the tournament, was scoreless in the first half and finished with 12 points on 3-for-9 shooting. Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon, who entered the game averaging 11.8 points per contest, didn't score until 4:33 remained. He fouled out with three points. The Blue Devils' three starting guards -- Curry, Sulaimon and Quinn Cook -- shot a combined 7-for-30 from the field.
Duke defeated Louisville 76-71 on Nov. 24 in the championship game of the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas, but Louisville center Gorgui Dieng was injured and didn't play in that game. In this game, Dieng finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Smith opened the second half by getting fouled on a 3-pointer. He made all three free throws to give Louisville a six-point cushion, but Curry came right back with a 3-pointer for his first points of the game.
Curry hit another three to cut Louisville's lead to 42-40, then Plumlee dunked on Duke's next possession to tie the score with 16:16 to go.
Siva hit a pullup jumper, then scored on a driving layup to give Louisville a 49-42 lead with 13:32 remaining.
Siva scored on a transition basket to push Louisville's lead to 53-44, then Dieng hit a jumper to give Louisville its first double-digit lead. Dieng hit another jumper to make it 57-44, Luke Hancock made a 3-pointer to bump Louisville's lead to 16 and the Cardinals coasted from there.
Duke trailed 33-32 in the closing seconds of the first half and had a chance to take the lead into the break. Instead, Curry's shot was blocked and Smith was fouled at the other end on a fast-break layup attempt with 2.3 seconds left in the half. Smith made both free throws to give the Cardinals a 35-32 lead at the break.
Smith scored 12 points in the first half for Louisville. Plumlee had nine points and six rebounds for Duke. Ryan Kelly scored seven points in the first half for the Blue Devils, but he played just eight minutes because he committed three fouls.
Curry went scoreless in the first half on 0-for-3 shooting and didn't even get a shot off for the first 8 1/2 minutes as he struggled to free himself from Peyton Siva.
NOTES: The injury to Ware brought back memories of a similar injury suffered by former Louisville running back Michael Bush, who currently plays for the Chicago Bears. Bush entered the 2006 college football season as one of top prospects for the 2007 NFL Draft, but suffered a broken right tibia in the first game of the season -- after running for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He missed the entire 2006 season. ... Mike Krzyzewski entered the game with an 11-1 record in Elite Eight games. ... Duke's streak of 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is the nation's longest. ... Duke has won 30 or more games 13 times, all under Krzyzewski. ... Curry has hit a 3-pointer in 18 consecutive games . ... Louisville has reached the Elite Eight in three of the past four seasons. ... Louisville defeated Duke 72-69 for the 1986 national title. ... Krzyzewski and Pitino faced off in the 1992 regional title game with Krzyzewski coaching Duke and Pitino coaching Kentucky. Christian Laettner hit his famous last-second jumper in Duke's 104-103 win, and the Blue Devils eventually won the national title. ... This is the fourth regional Indianapolis has hosted. Indianapolis also hosted in 1940, 1979 and 2009. ... Duke won its national championship in 2010 in Indianapolis, defeating the hometown Butler Bulldogs in the final.