Southern Miss is sitting in a position that no one would have predicted before the season. With several newcomers and unknows at key positions, it was uncertain the type of team the Golden Eagles would have this year.
At 17-3, the Eagles have already surpassed some projected win totals, and have put to rest the idea that they cannot close out games.
One of the major reasons for the hot and consistent start is the play of PG Neil Watson.
He said practice today continued on as it has all season, with a focus on toughness and rebounding, a major trait of Larry Eustachy teams.
"We had a good practice, it wasn't to long this morning," he said. "We focused a lot on rebounding and defense. We outrebounded Marshall on the first half but they beat us in the second half so we got back to doing what we do best in practice as we get ready for the East Carolina game."
With so many newcomers this season, it is amazing the way this team has been able to mesh together. Watson says that is a key to how this team has been able to pull out several games in the waning moments.
"Our team chemistry, the brotherhood we have and family we have has enabled us to win those games this year," he said.
"We know how to read each other, and we trust each other to know that anyone is capable of making the big play at the end of the game."
Watson has been especially clutch. He drained a three pointer at the end of the Marshall game to seal the deal.
"I feel confident at all times, but at the end of the games I am looking to Angelo (Johnson) and LaShay (Page) because those guys have taken me under their wing," he added.
"They've enabled me to take that big shot in some games and I've felt confident to take on that role."
He sees himself as one who can add a lot to the team in regards to intangibles.
"I am an energy guy," he said of his role. "I feel like I can come off the bench and can be that spark and motivator. I try to get the game up-tempo and do what I can to get the team going."
After a redshirt year at Toledo, Watson came back to play a year at Coffevile CC in Kansas. He also led his team to a birth in the National Tournament.
He is thankful that this winding road has led him to Hattiesburg.
"It means a lot coming in," he said. "I had heard the previous history of the Golden Eagles, and I love playing for Coach Eustachy. The team is great, and I feel like this is a great enviornment for me."
"With my previous experience at Division One, I am thankful to be a part of something special like this."
The Eagles will take to the road to try to earn their third win in a row as they head to East Carolina on Wednesday. The Eagles escaped with a 78-76 win over the Pirates in Hattiesburg.