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Someone finally pulled Behanan to his feet, but he doubled over and needed a few seconds to gather himself.
Condolences poured in on social media, too. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who famously sustained a broken leg on Monday Night Football in a game against the New York Giants, tweeted that "Watching Duke/ Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware."
Two doctors speculated Ware might have had stress fractures that predisposed him to such a break.
Dr. Reed Estes, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and team physician for the UAB football team, said basketball players are prone to stress fractures in the tibia, the larger of the two leg bones, and that can weaken them.
"If these are not detected they can result in a full fracture, particularly if the landing mechanics are just right" after a jump, Estes said. Surgery to stabilize the bones is usually successful, and Ware should be fine to play next season, he said.
Dr. Frederick Azar, head of the Campbell Clinic in Memphis, Tenn., and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said Ware "jumped pretty far horizontally and vertically, and he landed with a twist," which puts so much torsion and stress on the bones they could have just snapped. He agreed with Estes’ assessment that a stress fracture could have made Ware more prone to such an injury.
Louisville, the top overall seed in the tourney, missed four of its next five shots but regained its composure to take a 35-32 halftime lead and went on to an 85-63 victory.
"We won this for him," 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. We talked about it every timeout, ‘Get Kevin home.’"
Behanan switched into Ware’s No. 5 jersey near the end of the game.
Afterward, he kept it on and the Cardinal players led the heavily partisan Louisville crowd in chants of "Kev-in, Kev-in."
"We had to do this for Kevin, that’s our whole thing," Siva said. "Coach told us that we needed to get him back home, and I think it would have been a tougher loss for us if we would have gone out there and lost."
AP Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione contributed to this report.
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