Walk-On Playing Major Role For Basketball Tigers

<!--Default For Auburn is to ignore-->Auburn, Ala.--Coach Cliff Ellis says the addition of sophomore guard <!--Default NodeId For Nathan Watson is 408303,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:408303]>Nathan Watson</a> into the playing rotation has been one of the reasons the basketball Tigers are off to a good start in SEC play and on an eight-game winning streak.

"I think the addition of he and Robinson (Brandon Robinson) really gives you some depth," Ellis says. "Non-conference you can get away with it a little bit, but in the conference I don't think you can away with much without the depth."

Watson, a 6-3, 180 walk-on from Fort Payne, is averaging 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 10 games with three starts. Early in the season, the plans were to redshirt the guard, but since Ellis decided to play him Watson has seen a lot of action and is averaging 22.7 minutes per outing.

He is shooting 48.8 percent from the field and has hit 31-71 three-pointers. "I have been a three-point shooter ever since high school so it wasn't a change coming here and being a shooter for this team," Watson tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

Watson and the Tigers, who are 3-0 in the SEC and 14-2 overall, will play Alabama at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The sold out game will be televised regionally by JP. Alabama, which is ranked ninth and 10th nationally, is 2-1 in the SEC and 12-2 overall.

Watson says this is a bragging rights game that he is looking forward to on Saturday. "I will be playing against people that I played against in high school like (guards) Terrance Meade and Antoine Pettway so it is going to be real fun playing against them again. I haven't played against them in a while. Plus, both of them beat me the last time I met them in high school so I think I kind of owe them one."

Watson's three-point shooting has given the Tigers another serious offensive threat and made Auburn tougher to defend this year. "I am getting real comfortable out there," Watson says. "My game is starting to come to me a lot more and I am getting used to the atmosphere and the SEC physical play."

The 3-0 start in SEC play, including road wins at Arkansas and South Carolina, has given the Tigers a major boost, Watson says. "I think everybody's got a lot of confidence. We really don't have one guy that just needs to take the big shot. I think everybody can take the big shot because our confidence is up right now and everybody is hitting big shots for the team."

Auburn's improved shooting in 2002-2003 is a big reason for the 14-2 start, but there are other reasons. "I would say our defense, our rebounding and our transition have been the main points about our success," Watson notes.

Watson adds that the good start in league play has been fun for the Tigers. "We are just going to keep playing and, hopefully, keep winning and just show them that we are not underdogs. We are just going out there to play hard and show everybody that we are one of the best teams in the SEC."

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