About six games into the season, Louisville wasn't sure of prize freshman Asia Durr was going to finish out the season.
The Douglasville native was trying to make her way back back from a painful groin injury suffered six months ago. The ailment called for surgery where doctors had to "shorten up my muscle, pull it up and flip it over," Durr said.
But before a national television audience, Durr had a breakout game for the Cardinals as they upset then-No. 19 Michigan State 85-78 on the road in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Durr poured in 20 points to help lead the team to the win. She showed why she was the top-ranked prospect by multiple recruiting services after coming off the bench, shooting 6-of-11 from the field, and adding three steals and two assists.
"I feel like I'm playing a lot better," Durr said. "My groin is still bothering me but I have to play through the pain. I know the more I play, the more it is going to hurt. I'm just getting my treatment and playing."
The highest-rated recruit to ever sign with the Louisville women's basketball program, Durr has been living up to those expectations despite the injury.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz has been impressed with the grit from his freshman.
"Anybody that follows basketball knows the kid has gotten to where she is because of the time she's spent," Walz told the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper. "It's not like she's just jumping over everybody and an unbelievable athlete. It's her skill set that separates her -- her ability to handle the basketball and create her own shot. But a lot of that comes from the hours you spend in the gym, and that's something she continues to do.
"...Nobody's going to question, OK, does she deserve to get this shot, or does she deserve to get this playing time? She's just going to out-work 99 percent of the people, and that's contagious with her teammates."
In 15 games, including two starts, Durr is averaging 9.6 points per game, good enough for fourth on the team as the Cardinals are 13-5 overall and 5-0 in ACC play. She is averaging 11 points a game in conference heading into this afternoon's contest at N.C. State.
Louisville has won 10 straight games since a 72-54 loss to Kentucky.
While she has been pleased at the way her first year is going despite the injury, Durr has not been completely satisfied.
"I think there is always room for improvement," she said. "I'm enjoying doing what I love to do. I've put a lot of time in this and I love this game so much."
It is her love of the game that made her decide not to redshirt her first year and play through the pain.
Playing defense has been the most pain part of the game for her since it requires you to use your legs more.
"Playing defense is hard," she said. "I'm fighting through it but it has been a struggle. It is definitely the most challenging part of the game because it hurts when I have to slide. I know I can do it."
"You could just tell with how she's moving," he said. "She made a couple big-time plays. She's really, really good with the basketball, and that's what you need. You have to guard her. She can get the ball to her teammates as well. It gets us another scorer, and that's really what we were lacking at the beginning of the year."
Because of the way she has played, Durr has won over the respect of her teammates.
"We were scared she'd have to redshirt, because of course we need her," Cardinals sophomore Mariya Moore told the Louisville Courier-Journal after the Michigan State win. "We couldn't let her know we were scared. We had to continue to motivate her and encourage here."