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Teen Wolf Up to the Task: Tyler Lewis Sparks Comeback Over Pesky Yellow Jackets

This whole Cardiac Pack thing was more fun before my heart was old and feeble, but a win is a win.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

Four Factors NCSU GT
eFG% 57.5 47.7
Turnover Rate 14.0
Off Reb Rate 27.3 45.0
FT Rate 33.3 35.4

N.C. State averted disaster with an 80-78 overtime win over Georgia Tech to creep within one game of .500 in the ACC ahead of an all-important matchup with Florida State, a team that ranks 26th in ESPN's RPI.

Coming in with an RPI of 140, The Yellow Jackets (11-9, 2-5) had to be a win for the Pack (13-7, 3-4) if they are going to seriously entertain postseason hopes, though for much of Sunday afternoon's tilt it appeared the Pack's porous defense would do the home team in. Tech pushed a five-point lead at intermission to 11 on a bucket by Daniel Miller four minutes into the second half. Miller set his career high against the Pack for the second time in as many seasons, this time finishing with 21 (to go with 14 rebounds, also a career best).

But after Miller's hoop made the deficit 52-41, Tyler Lewis emerged from a season-long slump with a pair of threes over a 40-second stretch to get the Pack to within seven. Desmond Lee finally gave the Pack their first lead since the early going with a layup in traffic at the 9:02 mark, and the teams jockeyed back and forth from there, with Lee sending it into overtime with a tip at the 19-second mark. Lee was among four State players in double figures with 11, joining Lewis, who had 10 to reach double figures for the first time since scoring 15 in the season opener against Appalachian State, Ralston Turner (12) and T.J. Warren (20).

Warren, the ACC's leading scorer, took over in overtime, scoring five of the Pack's eight points in the extra frame, including a runner that proved to be the game winner with five seconds left. The Pack missed four free throws in the extra period, including a pair by Turner with 2.5 seconds left that could have iced it after Lee drew a charge on Trae Golden. Thankfully there was no Chandler Parsons pain in this one, as Chris Bolden's desperation heave got backboard and rim but no net as time expired.

After hitting four of their first eight threes, the Jackets managed to make just two of their last 10 but still managed to post surprisingly efficient offensive numbers thanks to grabbing 45% of their misses, including seven offensive rebounds over the last eight minutes. They finished with an offensive efficiency of 111.1, nearly 10 points better than their adjusted average (101.6) coming into the game. In other words, the 223rd "best" offense in the country just put up 78 points against the Pack in the Pack's house.

It will take a much better defensive and rebounding effort--Jordan Vandenberg, BeeJay Anya, Kyle Washington, and Lennard Freeman combined for just 11 rebounds, or three less than Miller had all by his lonesome--to take care of Florida State in what may be N.C. State's only remaining opportunity to get a top 50 RPI win at home (UNC could potentially climb into the top 50 by the time the teams meet in Raleigh on Feb. 26th). The Seminoles are 4-0 against teams with an RPI in the 51-100 range, including road wins over Clemson and Miami. However, the Noles are just 3-4 on the road overall. Wednesday's game tips at 9 p.m. and will be televised on the ACC Network and ESPN 3.