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March 21, 2013

Colby Lewis eagerly anticipating NCSU vs. Temple




Charlotte senior wing Colby Lewis definitely brings a different perspective in breaking down the NC State vs. Temple matchup at 1:40 p.m. Friday in the NCAA Tournament in Dayton.

The 49ers played Temple twice this season, and Lewis is also the older brother of NC State reserve freshman point guard Tyler Lewis. Colby Lewis is expecting a high-scoring game for sure.

"Temple really likes to score and they aren't really trying to stop you as much," Lewis said. "To me, they are fine if you score. They will just try to run it back down. They want the game in the 80s.

"They are a tough team and Khalif Wyatt is really, really good."

The two Charlotte/Temple games were complete opposites of each other.

The 49ers played the Owls down to the wire in Philadelphia on Feb. 6, but fell 89-88. Temple senior star guard Khalif Wyatt had 25 points and went 10 of 13 from the free-throw line, while fifth-year senior post player Jake O'Brien went 4 of 5 on three-pointers en route to 22 points.

Reserve wing Dalton Pepper, a redshirt junior who transferred in from West Virginia, and senior power forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson added 11 points apiece. The 49ers shot a blistering 32 of 53 for 60.4 percent, but still lost after committing 19 turnovers. The Owls weren't too shabby either at 3.4 percent from the field.

The return matchup in Charlotte wasn't close. Temple jumped out to a big halftime lead and cruised to a 71-51 victory Feb. 24. Fifth-year senior wing Scootie Randall had 18 points and three three-pointers, and Wyatt added 12 points and seven assists. Charlotte did a 180-degree turn from the previous game and shot 17 of 62 for 27.4 percent, including 1 of 12 on three-pointers.

Wyatt won the Atlantic 10 player of the year award, which was no surprise to Lewis.

"He's the best guard in the conference," Lewis said. "He can score in any way possible. He has maturity and experience. It's not like he's one-dimensional because he can shoot the three and he can drive. He's real smart and can post guys up."

Wyatt will sometimes force three-pointers, but he's been pretty good at knowing what his team needs from him when it comes to scoring or setting up others.

"We defended Wyatt pretty good in the first half, but he would get his teammates involved," Lewis said. "I wouldn't say he's slow to get started, but he has a good feel for the game. In the second half, he turned it up with the scoring."

Randle is a good three-pointer shooter on the wing and is another experienced multi-year starter.

"He can put it down once or twice and pull-up, but he's not looking to break you down off the dribble and get to the basket," Lewis said.

O'Brien transferred to Temple from Boston University as a graduate transfer. The Wolfpack tried to convince him to head further South, but he's probably been the difference in getting the Owls into the NCAA Tournament for the sixth-straight year.

"Up there, he hurt us for sure," Lewis said. "We didn't do well guarding him. They would drive and people would rotate and scramble, and he'd get open looks. He'll get some off the block, and he's so big and shoots so high. He has that mid-range level by jabbing you to get a little space, and then shoot the fade-away."

Temple, Saint Louis, VCU, Butler and La Salle, all reached the NCAA Tournament this season. Charlotte, St. Joseph's and UMass made the NIT. Lewis expects the Owls to be mentally tough Friday after a tough regular season.

"Besides the top five, everybody was there with seven or eight losses," Lewis said. "From 6-to-12, it was all pretty level. Temple went through a stretch in the middle of the season when they did lose to St. Bonaventure [who NCSU defeated] and they lost to Butler and St. Joseph's. Then they beat us and went on a run after that. They've been playing pretty well lately."

Lewis got a taste of March Madness with his last game Wednesday night against Providence in the NIT. The Friars three-guard offense combined for 55 points in a 75-66 win over the 49ers, closing out Lewis' career.

He's eager to watch Tyler Lewis play on Friday in his first NCAA Tournament.

"It's going to be great and I'll be watching closely," Colby Lewis said. "Hopefully, he gets a chance to make something happen."


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