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Basketball: Shaken Louisville gain coveted Final 4 berth

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

The Louisville Cardinals shook off a shocking injury to reserve guard Kevin Ware to beat Duke University 85-63 on Sunday and claim a coveted spot in US college basketball's Final Four.

The Cardinals reached the semi-finals of the national tournament for the second straight year with the win over perennial powerhouse Duke, whose coach Mike Krzyzewski guided the US men's team to Olympic basketball gold in Beijing and London.

But the young players and Louisville coach Rick Pitino had to set aside their dismay after Ware suffered a gruesome broken leg in the first quarter.

"Basically, the bone popped out of the skin. It broke in two spots," Pitino said. "Remember the bone is six inches out of his leg, and all he's yelling is 'Win the game, win the game.' I've never seen anything like that."

Louisville were the top seeds in their region in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament that yearly captures the imagination of US sports fans who are glued to "March Madness".

They next take on surprise semi-finalist Wichita State, who upset Ohio State 70-66 on Saturday.

"I don't think we could have gathered ourselves -- I know I couldn't have -- if Kevin (Ware) didn't say over and over again, 'Just go win the game," Pitino said. "I don't think we could have gone in the locker room with a loss after seeing that. We had to gather ourselves. We couldn't lose this game for him."

Ware, a second-year student, leapt up to try to block a three-point attempt by the Blue Devils' Tyler Thornton with 6:33 remaining in the opening period.

His leg bent awkwardly as he landed and he remained lying on the court for several minutes before he was stretchered off and later had what was described as successful surgery.

The University of Michigan defeated the University of Florida 79-59 to complete the Final Four lineup. They'll face Syracuse, who beat Marquette 55-39 on Saturday.

bb/mk

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130401/basketball-shaken-louisville-gain-coveted-final-4-berth