Jarnell Stokes and Cuonzo Martin talk before practice Thursday
"A lot of people are asking me if I'm all right,'' said Tatum, who's in the midst of a 1-for-21 shooting slump the past three games, including 0-for-9 from 3-point range. "I'm perfectly fine. I'm alive, and I'm playing basketball, which is a sport I love.
"It's like Coach (Cuonzo) Martin says, there are people going through much worse in life.''
Just the same, nothing would brighten Tatum's world more than if he could help lead Tennessee (10-12, 2-5 SEC) over Georgia (10-11, 1-6) tonight (TV: FSTN, 8 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes for my team,'' Tatum said. "I just really hope when my time is done here at Tennessee, people know I always gave my all and cared more about helping our program win games than anything else.''
Martin sees that.
The first-year UT coach said Tatum's effort on defense and in practice are reasons why he is keeping the fifth-year senior wing in the starting lineup and continuing to play him in key minutes.
"Cam is doing the necessary things and he works hard,'' Martin said. "He was in there (the gym) on Wednesday getting up more shots. When you do that, it will fall for you. You'll see; it will fall for him.
"The big plus for Cam is he is a guy who really cares.''
Junior shooting guard Skylar McBee said the players are responsible for UT's recent shooting woes, not the coaching staff nor the schemes.
"It's on us, it's about getting in the gym and
making shots, and it's something we have got to do,'' said McBee, who is 3-of-14 shooting 3-pointers the past three games. "It's more of a mindset than anything. When you go through a couple of games and you haven't hit shots, you've got to get that out of your mind.
"Coach Martin wants us to keep taking shots when we're open, and I'll guarantee you Georgia will double (team) our post, so we'll have to make shots.''
The Vols might have recently re-discovered another shooting star in senior Renaldo Woolridge, who's coming off a performance Tuesday against No. 1 Kentucky in which he hit five of six attempts from beyond the 3-point arc en route to matching his career high with 17 points.
Martin said it remains to be seen if Woolridge can do that while guarded by a wing player, as opposed to a power forward or post.
"It's easier for him to get open when he's guarded by a big, because he can get out there and pick and pop,'' Martin said. "It's harder when you have a perimeter player on you, because they tend to be more mobile.''
Woolridge, who has been shuffled between the small forward and post position throughout his career, said it's an adjustment shifting back out onto the perimeter.
"It's different than what I had been doing, but I have those skills and it's just a matter of getting comfortable in a new role,'' Woolridge said. "Playing inside, I had to use my strength to push people off the block, and now I'm on the perimeter chasing people around.''
The Bulldogs, who shot 25 percent in their 59-51 loss at Auburn on Wednesday, are one of the smaller teams the Vols have faced.
Georgia's quickness, however, bothered UT in the first meeting, a 57-53 Bulldogs win in overtime on Jan. 18 in Athens.
The Bulldogs forced the Vols into 20 turnovers in that meeting, recording nine steals while holding UT point guard Trae Golden to just two assists.
"It's a matter of doing the simple things,'' Martin said. "Make the simple pass, hit the open shot, guard your man.''
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32