There's typically not a lot to cheer about during an exhibition game, but that sure wasn't the case on Wednesday night.
The 19,227 fans at the KFC Yum! Center went crazy in the second half as University of Louisville junior Kevin Ware made his dramatic return to the court just 220 days after suffering a gruesome broken leg in the NCAA Tournament.
Ware, who has been practicing since last Sunday, had six points, four rebounds and one turnover in 10 minutes of the Cardinals' 90-61 win over Pikeville.
"I wanted to get him some minutes just to get him over the jitters in case I need to use him against Charleston (on Saturday)," U of L coach Rick Pitino said.
Ware said initially he had some jitters but those were quickly erased when he hit his first shot – as Pitino said "without drawing iron."
"I was a little nervous honestly," Ware said. "I didn't really expect to get into the game but when he called my name, I was just ready to get in.
"I have been waiting for this moment for 220 days now, so I was ready. I honestly thought I would air ball my first shot, but when it went in I think everything just went back to normal."
Ware finished 1 of 3 from the field, hit 3 of 4 free throws and had several nice moves, one time even getting knocked to the floor.
It's been a long road back for Ware.
He suffered the broken leg against Duke on national television, was a national story as the Cardinals' finished off the run to the school's third NCAA title.
Ware said during the summer that he expected to play early this season but there had been questions as to when he would make his return. He was cleared for full practice on Sunday and on Wednesday he was back.
"He gives us a lot of positive injury," sophomore Montrezl Harrell said. "He's a guy some people didn't think would play until January. He's kind of back to himself, but not really. He did well out here tonight and he'll get back to the Kevin Ware of the tournament here soon."
Ware said he was glad the initial entrance back into the game was over. He said he didn't think he would play but asked trainer Fred Hina before the game and was told to get his ankle taped just in case.
"It felt great," Ware said. "Everybody has been waiting for me to come back as much as I have, so it was great. I love our fans, I really do.
"I feel like mentally I am back to where I need to be, just not in the shape I need to be but that will come with our practices. Basketball wise, running and jumping, I think I am getting back to normal. I feel fine."