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N.C. State Basketball

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Pack freshman Tyler Lewis: ‘I know I can play at this level’

Freshman point guard knew he’d get his chance

Tyler Lewis tried to stay positive as his role was reduced and his minutes disappeared.

“I knew my opportunity would come,” Lewis said.

His opportunity came Saturday, with point guard Lorenzo Brown sidelined with an ankle injury, and the freshman delivered with 16 points and five assists in 36 minutes.

Lewis’ best talent is making other players better, which is difficult to do in limited minutes. He made State’s offense go on Saturday with a variety of drives and creative passes. It was the type of performance Lewis produced regularly in high school for Forsyth Country Day and Oak Hill.

“It felt good to get out there and get into the flow game,” Lewis said. “I know I can play at this level, just proving a lot of people wrong was a great opportunity.”

Still, Lewis was disappointed by the outcome. His pullup jumper with 16 seconds left would have given N.C. State an 80-77 lead. Lewis lamented the last shot, which was a clean look, it just didn’t fall.

“My shot probably wasn’t the best shot we could have gotten on that play,” Lewis said.

Before Brown’s injury at Virginia on Tuesday, Lewis had played 4, 5, 2, 0, 6, 3 and 3 minutes in the first seven ACC games. He played 15 minutes at Virginia, after Brown got hurt.

“He hasn’t really had a lot of minutes thus far in the season, so him coming out and to be able to play at the level he did was really good for us,” Rodney Purvis said.

The question now is how will Gottfried use Lewis going forward? Brown hasn’t practiced since Tuesday but warmed up on Saturday and tried to play. He’ll get another four days of rest before N.C. State goes to Duke.

The preseason hope and plan was to plug Lewis into Alex Johnson’s backup role from last season. Johnson played both guard spots and could be effective in spurts. Lewis plays better with more leeway, something Gottfried hasn’t been reluctant to give him. Gottfried sounded as if he would re-evaluate the rotation once Brown returns to the lineup.

“I think maybe the positive from this is we learned something, too, that he’s ready to go,” Gottfried said.

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