No. 3 Louisville defeated NAIA Pikeville, 90-61, on Wednesday, but the real story was about a Cardinal who came off the bench to tally six points and four rebounds.
Many thought Ware's first game would be this Saturday when the Cardinals open the regular season against College of Charleston. Louisville coach Rick Pitino said on Monday that Ware was back to full contact in practice and would dress against the Cougars.
Then, 26 minutes into the Cardinals' final exhibition, Pitino called for No. 5.
Ware entered the game with 13:49 to play in the second half, much to the delight of the crowd of 19,227 at the KFC YUM! Center:
Five minutes later, Ware scored his first basket -- a three from the right wing off a pass from freshman Terry Rozier. Detroit Pistons guard Peyton Siva was quick to congratulate his former teammate:
3!!!! Kevin Ware!! First shot— Peyton siva (@PeypeySiva3) November 7, 2013
More reaction from Ware's unexpected 10-minute return:
Couldn't be happier to see Kevin Ware make his return to the court tonight for Louisville. Amazing— Tracy Wolfson (@tracywolfson) November 7, 2013
Kevin Ware just entered exhibition game for Louisville vs. Pikeville, officially heals faster than Wolverine.— LostLettermen.com (@LostLettermen) November 7, 2013
It's both surreal and nerve-wracking watching Kevin Ware moving around the same way he was before March 31.— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) November 7, 2013
Now that the emotional first game back is behind Ware, he and the Cardinals can focus on what he will add to the team. Ware averaged 4.5 points per game last year, shooting 40 percent from three. The Bronx guard will play behind Russ Smith and junior college transfer Chris Jones, who together make one of the nation's most feared backcourts. Ware averaged 16.5 minutes per game last year and had one of his best games in the Sweet 16 against Oregon. He scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting over 25 minutes against the Ducks.