Adam Gold

Lewis rescues State from itself

Posted January 26
Updated January 27

Tyler Lewis (12) lays the ball in. NC State defeated Georgia Tech 80-78 on January 26, 2014 at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. Photo by: Jerome Carpenter

NC State's season was on the verge of possibly spiraling out of control Sunday afternoon at PNC Arena. Trailing by 11 points early in the second half of this late January game against offensively-challenged yet surprisingly efficient Georgia Tech the Wolfpack were desperately in need of a spark. And, it came from the most unlikely of sources.

Tyler Lewis.

Relegated to a reserve role behind freshman point guard Anthony Barber, Lewis' key minutes -- not to mention moments -- were few and far between this season. In fact Lewis, an expected starter coming into his sophomore year, had played less than 10 minutes in half of State's games since the start of December. It's the reality a player of Lewis' ability has to deal with; there always seems to be someone coming in who appears quicker, stronger and more dynamic.

Still, you have to be ready when your number is called.

Coming out of the first media time out with just over four minutes gone in the second half and the Wolfpack trailing by 11, Lewis replaced Barber and needed just over a minute to change the course of the game, and possibly the season for his team. It had been more than a month since Lewis had made a 3-point basket, heck he'd only made three of 25 attempts all year long. But, with his team needing a spark, Lewis confidently stepped into a long-range shot and ignited the home crowd for the first time since the very early stages of the game.

Lewis' fourth 3-pointer of the year was followed 39 seconds later with his 5th and the comeback was officially underway. Lewis would score 10 points, all coming in the second half and it was the second-year guard from Statesville, NC in charge of the Wolfpack through the key moments of the game including all five in the overtime.

It takes character and a little bit of chutzpah to accept the responsibility of taking big shots when your team is struggling. Even more so when you've been lost in a bit of an offensive funk yourself, but one of the best traits Lewis possesses is a total lack of fear and he knew he'd be ready when his number was called. "I always tried to stay positive, I never lost confidence and I continued to work hard in practice", Lewis said after coaxing the Pack to their second straight come-from-behind victory. "It doesn't matter what happens, I always feel like I can help my team get a W."

On a Sunday afternoon, with Georgia Tech -- a team that frankly, isn't as good as the Wolfpack should be -- poised to run away from NC State, dealing the Pack a loss that would be difficult to overcome in the long run, Lewis delivered for his team. With five of their next seven games away from home, a loss to the Yellow Jackets would have likely meant the beginning of the end of State's NCAA chances. But, Lewis refused to let his team begin the slide into also-ran status.

Maybe it's this time of the year that inspires Lewis to playing his best. It was last year, the week before the Super Bowl, when Lewis replaced an injured Lorenzo Brown at Virginia and went off on a streak of his best basketball of his freshman season. While State didn't beat UVA that night, nor did they defeat Miami or Duke, the top two teams in the league, in the next two games, Lewis was probably their best player in that stretch. In those two losses, Lewis proved that, at the very least, he could be a part of the solution to whatever problems the Wolfpack encountered. And, even though Lewis found himself wanting for playing time, he never stopped believing that he would have the chance to prove it all over again.

"Everything happens for a reason. You just have to be ready."

Not to mention willing and able.

16 Comments

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  • kato_karma3.4 Jan 29, 5:42 p.m.

    He is a defensive liability but can get extended minutes if Gott goes zone and the other team is cool from the perimeter.

  • paydirt80 Jan 28, 5:27 p.m.

    Why doesn't he play more?

  • vt94hokies Jan 27, 9:58 p.m.

    Lewis is a role player. He's a small guy that still can make things happen on the court. He has court sense, and he was in the game at the right time to take some huge shots. He was as valuable as any that knows this game. Without his late shots???????

  • eYore Jan 27, 3:28 p.m.

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

    — Posted by Super Hans

    Really? How disappointing. You have nothing positive to say for a player who contributed... View More

    — Posted by eYore

    Why? Lewis didn't help hans' team win.

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Then perhaps you will enlighten us as to what eYore was trying to say, yes?

    — Posted by Super Hans

    I do not need clarification from Ken on my statement. However, your squirrel/nut comment implies you have no expectation of success from TLewis.

  • Carameltoe Jan 27, 3:27 p.m.

    I wouldn't exactly say "spiraling out of control". This makes two wins in-a-row and they were hard fought, team-oriented victories which seems to be more of a barometer that a young Wolfpack team is beginning to mature. There is no question that this team has tons of talent, but the lack of D1 experience across the board gives pause and certainly doesn't lend much credibility to Gold's opening line. I'd say a 3-4 start in the ACC is about what was expected and hopefully predicates a strong finish with a couple of tough games coming up.

  • cjw6105 Jan 27, 2:12 p.m.

    Let's wait a week and see how this team performs on the road, starting with this coming Saturday.

    That game will tell you a lot about whether this team will "implode" or not.

  • Super Hans Jan 27, 1:58 p.m.

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

    — Posted by Super Hans

    Really? How disappointing. You have nothing positive to say for a player who contributed... View More

    — Posted by eYore

    Why? Lewis didn't help hans' team win.

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Then perhaps you will enlighten us as to what eYore was trying to say, yes?

  • JPDOhio Jan 27, 1:52 p.m.

    "NC State's season was on the verge of possibly spiraling out of control Sunday afternoon at PNC Arena." I've seen this comment by columnists more than a few times and can't help but smile at the predictability of the sentiment. This team will have its ups and downs this season as it's young members adjust to playing in the ACC and grow. But I would be shocked if this team were to implode like previous State teams, for the simple reason that they collectively have a passion that has been non-existent on teams "led" by such charismatic stalwarts as CJ Leslie and Brandon Costner. Just watch TJ, Dez Lee and Kyle Washington, to name just a few examples. The "want-to" is there. As a team, the Pack still lacks the experience to consistently handle the pressure applied by some of the better teams in the conference, but that will come with time. In the meantime, our Wolfpack will provide equal parts excitement and exasperation as the season goes on. However, the future is bright.

  • Ken D. Jan 27, 1:38 p.m.

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

    — Posted by Super Hans

    Really? How disappointing. You have nothing positive to say for a player who contributed... View More

    — Posted by eYore

    Why? Lewis didn't help hans' team win.

  • vt94hokies Jan 27, 1:30 p.m.

    Great thing for State that he took a bold step and delivered.

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