If anyone can appreciate the fact that there's no place like home, it's the Tennessee men's basketball team.
The Vols (8-9, 1-2 SEC) play at Georgia (9-8, 0-3) tonight (TV: WVLT, 8 p.m) looking for their first road victory of the season.
This time, however, there's a twist for at least half the players in UT's eight-man rotation. Tonight's game at Stegeman Coliseum will represent a homecoming of sorts for four Vols who hail from the state of Georgia: Cameron Tatum (Lithonia), Trae Golden (Powder Springs), Jordan McRae (Midway) and Kenny Hall (Stone Mountain).
Not that any of them seemed anxious to play up their return to the Peach State.
"Right now, man, we just need to get a road victory,'' said Tatum, a fifth-year senior who is the team's lone returning starter from a season ago. "It's not about how many friends and family I'll have there (a dozen).
"The fact we're playing back in Georgia hasn't even come up with us. It's an SEC road trip.''
The Bulldogs are 7-3 at home but are looking for their first win of 2012. Georgia is riding a three-
game losing streak that dates back to a 58-51 win over Delaware State on Dec. 30.
The quartet of Georgia Vols has accounted for 56 percent of UT's scoring this season and 69.6 percent of the team's assists.
Tatum, who starts at small forward, has had as bumpy of a road as any of his teammates.
"I haven't really had a good road outing,'' Tatum said. "It's a matter of being consistent on the road. I'm trying to put the past behind me and move forward.''
Tatum is 3-of-19 shooting from the floor with seven points in 75 combined minutes in the Vols' last three road games, at Charleston (S.C.), at Memphis and at Mississippi State.
While Tatum said he's sure to hear some catcalls from the Georgia fans, he said he knows how to roll with it.
"At Stegeman, it's the fans and the hecklers they have down there,'' Tatum said. "They will really try to get to you, which is fun. It's mostly their student section.''
Golden, UT's starting point guard, said he didn't have to worry about that when the teams met at Georgia last season, a game UT won 59-57 on Brian Williams' last-second basket.
"I didn't really hear anything, because I was a backup,'' said Golden, Georgia's high school player of the year in 2010. "But when I picked Tennessee (coming out of high school), I heard from some Bulldog and Georgia Tech fans. It was kind of like Jarnell (Stokes) in Memphis, only not on that big of a scale.
"I just felt something was right about Tennessee, and I did take a lot of heat for that.''
While UT has a distinct size advantage on the front line, bolstered by recent addition of 6-foot-8, 270-pound freshman mid-term enrollee Stokes, Golden will have his hands full against an experienced Georgia backcourt featuring seniors Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson.
McRae's role is less clear, as he has been an x-factor of sorts for the Vols this season.
The high-flying 6-foot-5 sophomore guard has detonated at times, scoring 25 points in back-to-back games against Chaminade (Nov. 23) and Oakland (Nov. 28).
But since losing his starting job to freshman Josh Richardson before the Jan. 7 SEC opener against Florida, McRae's scoring has dropped from 10 points (against the Gators), to five points (at Mississippi State) and one point in last Saturday's 65-62 loss to Kentucky.
Hall, a junior post, has seen his numbers trend upward since losing his starting job before the Florida game.
"I've always had it in me, but now it's just coming out,'' said Hall, who scored 13 against Florida, 12 against Mississippi State and eight against Kentucky. "Like Coach (Cuonzo) Martin said, I had to dig down deep and bring it out.''
Hall indicated there would be no better time for him and his fellow Georgia high school products to have one of their better games than against the home-state Bulldogs.
"It's a chance for us to show what we can do,'' said Hall, who is averaging 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds this season. "I wouldn't say (Georgia) is anymore difficult than anywhere else to play. It's going to be loud in there.
"I hear stuff there, but I just laugh it off.''
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32