Kevin Ware Returns In Cardinals Win Over Pikeville

11/06/2013 09:33 PM

Even before he officially checked into the game, Kevin Ware had the crowd at the Yum! Center on its feet cheering. Again, the fans stood in support as Ware drilled a three-pointer on his first shot attempt.

“Honestly, I thought I would air ball my first shot,” Ware said. “When it went in, everything went back to normal.”

“It was a storybook ending when you take your first shot and it doesn’t touch the iron,” head coach Rick Pitino said after the game.

Ware ended the game with six points and four rebounds in 10 minutes in his first game back from the injury against Duke as the Cards defeated Pikeville 90-61, but Ware said it was a surprise to hear his number called.

“I was a little nervous actually. I didn’t expect to get in so late in the game,” Ware said. “When he called my number, I was ready. I’ve been away for 220 days.”

Pitino said it was important to get him in the game tonight, but fans and media shouldn’t judge him on tonight’s performance alone.

“I wanted to get him some minutes to get him over the jitters for Charleston,” Pitino said. “He’s doing great, but let’s not evaluate him until he gets a few weeks under his belt.”

Mentally, Ware said he is completely back, partly due to the fact that he still has not seen the video of his injury. Plus, all the fan support did not hurt.

“It felt great honestly people have been supporting me since my injury. Everybody has been waiting for me to come back,” Ware said. “I think mentally I’m back. I have a ways to go in my conditioning, but basketball wise I feel like myself.”

Point guard Chris Jones led the team in scoring with 19 points. Montrezl Harrel was a beast in the paint, making seven of eight shots and hitting four free throws to score 18 for the Cards. At one point, he screamed “AND ONE” after making a basket and getting fouled, showing that even if this is Pikeville, he will play against them hard. Russ Smith ended the night with 12 points, seven assists and two steals.

The Cards next game is Saturday against Charleston at 1 p.m. ET.

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