Sharp shooter

Tennessee point guard C.J. Watson is attempting 8.6 field goals per game in 2005-06, exactly matching his attempts-per-game average of 2004-05. This year, however, he's scoring 17.0 points per game, up from 11.9 a year ago.

The reason is simple: After hitting just 41.0 percent of his floor shots last winter, the senior point guard is draining them at a 55.8 clip in 2005-06. Meanwhile, his 3-point percentage has soared from 37.5 to 61.9. The reason for this is simple, too.

"C.J.'s taking good shots," head coach Bruce Pearl says. "His shooting percentages are way up because he's taking better shots. As a team we're running a better offense and sharing the ball. There's more balance in the stat sheet. We're only playing seven but four or five guys are hitting double digits."

That's true. More Vols are proving themselves capable of sharing the offensive load this year. In addition, the Vols are no longer playing Buzz Ball and trying to burn 25 seconds off the shot clock before looking to score. This caused them to force some shots as the shot clock was expiring last year. As a result of these two factors, Watson is taking shots when he WANTS to, not when he HAS to. That has reduced his stress and increased his output.

"I think C.J.'s got more confidence in his teammates," Pearl said. "And, when the game's on the line, he'll take the shot."

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