Cameron Tatum isn't sure when it began. Or why or how.
He just wishes it would end and end soon because the 2010-11 season is running out of shots.
"It's tough,'' Tatum said Tuesday, "because I've never really been in a this bad of a slump, this long.
"I've had maybe a game or two where I shot bad. But this slump right here, it's tough.''
The shooting slump that has gripped Tatum also is tough on his Tennessee team. Throw in his embattled coach, Bruce Pearl, too. The guy could use a couple of wins about now.
All concerned would love to see Tatum break out of his slump tonight at South Carolina. It' a winnable road game if the Vols play with purpose - and knock down some shots.
If Tennessee is to generate any 11th-hour momentum to carry into the postseason, it needs something positive from Tatum, a junior wing.
"Cam is extremely accountable,'' Pearl said. "He is aware that he needs to be that third option.''
Unlike those two, Tatum was never a McDonald's All-American. After two years as a valuable reserve, Tatum has started every game, averaging 9.4 points in 25.9 minutes.
Lately, though, his field-goal (39.4) and 3-point percentages (28.7) have dropped to a career low.
"It's probably hard for Cam,'' Pearl said, "in the sense we do a lot for Tobias and Scotty. We don't do as much for Cam to get him open.''
The Vols are 10-4 when Tatum scores in double figures, only 7-8 when he doesn't.
They're 3-7 when he scores six or fewer points. That's been the case five of the past six games, during which Tatum is 5-of-24 from 3-point range and 3-of-11 at the free-throw stripe.
The biggest miss was the one-and-one free-throw at Florida on Feb. 12 that opened the door for the Gators to win 61-60.
But his overall shooting slump had begun the previous game at Kentucky. His 3-point stroke had deserted him even earlier, starting with a 1-of-5 effort at Auburn.
Tatum stepped up during Hopson's two-game injury absence, averaging 15.5 points. He's had virtually nothing fall since.
The one exception was a 73-67 win over South Carolina in Knoxville in which he was 5-of-9 from the field and scored 13 points.
Prior to that game, one of UT's coaches gave Tatum some written advice from Steve Kerr, a noted marksman in a long NBA career, on the subject of slumps.
"Just shoot the ball,'' Tatum recalled. "Don't think about it. When you're thinking about it before you shoot it, there's gonna be a problem.''
But Tatum is 4-of-20 shooting in the three games since. The cure didn't stick.
Tatum has since turned to other NBA stars, Ray Allen and Gilbert Arenas, studying their reaction to shooting slumps.
"I haven't talked to them personally,'' he said, "but I'm trying to pick their brains.''
Pearl is right about Tatum being accountable. He's been in the gym before and after practice getting up shots.
He also took to heart Pearl's challenge to the team leadership after the Mississippi State loss.
"I kind of knew who it was,'' Tatum said. "Not just to strike at me, but all the leaders on this team.''
There is more than one way to lead. But it would be an easier task if a few shots would swish through the nets.
"It's just one of those things,'' Tatum said. "When one falls, the next falls and it'll be good.
"I just hope it happens soon.''
Sooner would be good. At this point there may not be a later.