"Mr. Clutch"

When the going gets tough … C.J. Watson gets the ball.

That's basically the master plan for Tennessee's basketball team this season. Consider:

With the Vols trailing Southern Indiana 60-57 and nine minutes left in the exhibition opener, Watson hit a couple of 3-pointers, then drained 10 of 10 free throws over the final 7:17. All told, he scored 16 of UT's last 29 points in an 86-78 victory.

With the Vols leading Appalachian State 76-71 and six minutes left in Game 5, Watson hit a pair of 3s, then nailed four of four free throws in the final 1:23 to seal an 89-81 victory.

Clearly, head coach Bruce Pearl wants the ball in Watson's hands at crunch time. And why not? He's a cool-headed senior, a four-year starter and the guy you want shooting the clutch foul shots in the final minutes of a close game. Right?

"I think that's the game plan … for the ball to be in my hands and let me make some plays," the soft-spoken Watson said.

Although he has been Tennessee's Mr. Clutch to date, C.J. Watson is confident other Vols can make the key plays should future opponents double-team him at crunch time.

"I have faith in my teammates," he said. "I just try to get the ball to my shooters and my big man, and go from there."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories