Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lowe: Fells to play vs. North Carolina

N.C. State senior guard Courtney Fells will play Saturday against North Carolina despite a left ankle injury that continues to give him problems, coach Sidney Lowe said Thursday during his news conference to preview the game.

Fells has been battling the injury since Dec. 6 and appeared to aggravate it late in Tuesday’s 84-81 overtime win over Miami, when he scored a career-high 24 points.

“I don’t see this injury preventing him from playing Saturday,” Lowe said. “How effective he will be, we don’t know.”

It’s likely that Fells will continue to see time at shooting guard rather than small forward for at least parts of the North Carolina game, which tips off at 3:30 p.m. at the RBC Center. Lowe said the Wolfpack will continue to move forward with the “big lineup” the team started using Saturday against Boston College.

N.C. State started 6-foot-10 Ben McCauley, 6-9 Brandon Costner and 6-7 Tracy Smith against Miami and moved Fells back to shooting guard, where he played during his first three seasons with the Wolfpack.

Lowe was reluctant to confirm that he will continue using the lineup for fear of giving away his game plan, but seemed to realize it’s not much of a secret anymore.

“Obviously we used a big lineup the last couple ballgames and it was good,” Lowe said. “So you’re going to see it. . . .I wanted to put what I thought was the best five guys (on the floor). Ben, Tracy and Brandon can all produce along with Courtney and Farnold (Degand).”

The sudden emergence of Degand as a reliable point guard over the last two games has shored up N.C. State’s most vulnerable spot. Degand has posted a career-high seven assists with two turnovers in each of the last two games.

“Farnold has been more under control,” Lowe said. “. . .He noticed the positive feedback he got from that (after the Boston College game), and he came back and did it again.” – Ken Tysiac