Florida State at N.C. State 9 p.m. (WRAL)

Wolfpack’s Lewis stays upbeat and positive in limited minutes

jgiglio@newsobserver.comJanuary 28, 2014 

  • Florida State at N.C. State

    When: 9 p.m.  Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh

    TV/Radio: WBTV (Charlotte), WRAL (Raleigh), 101.5-WRAL

    Projected starting lineups

    Florida State (13-6, 4-3 ACC)

    G Devon Bookert 8.7 ppg, 2.9 apg

    G Montay Brandon 8.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg

    F Okaro White 12.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg

    F Robert Gilchrist 4.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg

    F Boris Bojanovsky 6.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg

    N.C. State (13-7, 3-4)

    G Cat Barber 11.1 ppg, 4.2 apg

    G Ralston Turner 9.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg

    F T.J. Warren 22.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg

    F Kyle Washington 4.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg

    F Jordan Vandenberg 5.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg

    Player to watch

    Ian Miller, guard, Florida State

    He doesn’t start but the senior guard from Charlotte is FSU’s top scorer (13.1 points per game). Miller is healhty after slogging through his junior season with a foot injury. Ralston Turner or Desmond Lee will have to keep Miller in check.

    Observations

    Florida State’s top two scorers don’t start – Miller and guard Aaron Thomas (12.5 points per game – which is unusual but coach Leonard Hamilton has always made unconventional lineup and substitution choices. ... The Seminoles have won four of the past five meetings with N.C. State, including the regular-season finale in Tallahassee, Fla., last year, which cost the Wolfpack a bye in the ACC tournament.

    Joe Giglio

— It’s a routine Tyler Lewis has become familiar with at N.C. State but one he’d like to break.

Lewis bides his time on the Wolfpack bench until, like the second half of Sunday’s win over Georgia Tech, he’s needed.

Lewis’ role won’t change for Wednesday’s home game with Florida State or in the foreseeable future, not with freshman Cat Barber starting at point guard.

Lewis provided a spark in the Wolfpack’s 80-78 overtime win over the Yellow Jackets with 10 points and three assists. In the previous six ACC games, Lewis had 14 total points.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said Lewis was “terrific” against Georgia Tech and that his team needs both Lewis and Barber to produce.

“With our team, we need for Cat and Tyler to be at the top of their game,” Gottfried said.

Lewis has a knack for being able to help the Wolfpack offense, even after being on the bench for long stretches. He did that last season as a freshman, as Lorenzo Brown’s backup. He has played more minutes as a sophomore but his chances still vary.

He played only 5 minutes against Pittsburgh and 6 at Wake Forest, although he was dealing with flu-like symptoms.

He has averages 13.4 minutes in ACC play and 3.4 points per game. After starting the first four games of this season, and a sterling McDonald’s All-American season at Oak Hill in 2012, it has been an adjustment for the 5-foot-11 point guard to play off the bench.

“It’s never easy sitting on the bench,” Lewis said. “I feel like I can do a lot more than I’ve done but I just have to stay ready.”

Lewis came into Sunday’s win with the Wolfpack trailing 52-41. He popped in a quick 3-pointer and then another to jumpstart the Wolfpack’s comeback.

“He gave us a boost when we needed him,” junior guard Ralston Turner said. “He was huge for us in that game.”

Lewis stayed on the floor for extended minutes in the second half, as the Wolfpack went to zone, and to a smaller lineup. Lewis even played with Barber for a stretch at the end of regulation.

Gottfried has been hesitant to go to the smaller lineup, which means sophomore T.J. Warren has to play inside, but he said it’s a lineup he will consider.

“I’m not sure we can go that every night but there will be times when we can,” Gottfried said.

Lewis, who is one of the more vocal leaders on the team, even in a limited on-court role, has stayed positive. He was the same way last year, keeping his head up, even when his minutes were down.

Gottfried commended Lewis for having a great attitude.

“I think if he had shut it down or got frustrated, then it’s hard to have games like he did,” Gottfried said. “He has had great attitude and I think he is going to play here the rest of the way.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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