Cameron Tatum's ever-present stoic expression belies his wildly erratic performances this season.
Tennessee's fifth-year senior did his best to explain how he could follow his poor performance at Georgia on Wednesday with such a great game in the Vols' 60-57 win over No. 13 Connecticut on Saturday.
"I try to have a short-term memory,'' said Tatum, beginning his post-game interview. "I understand I played bad the last game, but today I gave my team a chance to win a big ballgame.''
Tatum came through with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting (including 4-of-7 from three) and had three assists with no turnovers against the talented Huskies (14-5).
It was a performance to reward the patience of UT coach Cuonzo Martin, who if he had any hair would have been pulling it out after Tatum's late-game blunders led to the Vols (9-10, 1-3 SEC) losing 57-53 in overtime at lowly Georgia.
Tatum was 3-of-9 shooting against the Bulldogs, and while six rebounds and three steals revealed effort, Tatum also committed five turnovers.
Most galling, Tatum faltered in the clutch, committing a late-game turnover on an entry pass and immediately thereafter committing a needless foul that led to Georgia forcing overtime.
"The beautiful thing about basketball is you play so many games,'' Tatum said Saturday. "We had a tough one Wednesday, and I did not have the night I wanted, so I wanted to come out here aggressive and make sure I put that behind me.''
Makes enough sense, but one can only guess at what lies ahead for Tatum and the unpredictable Vols.
Tennessee's next game is Tuesday (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.) against rival Vanderbilt. The Commodores are a team sure to be on the hunt after getting swept by the Vols last season and falling at home to Mississippi State in overtime on Saturday.
Tatum, whose 558 minutes this season are second only to slumping sophomore point guard Trae Golden, is sure to be a factor.
Martin has continued to praise Tatum's effort and dedication while keeping him in the starting lineup.
As poorly as Tatum has shot on given nights, Martin knows Tatum will give effort on the defensive end and has the basketball IQ to make good decisions in the Vols' motion offense.
Lanky and likable, Tatum soldiers on.
"That game,'' Tatum said, finally changing his expression with the hint of a smile late Saturday afternoon, "that game felt good.''
Trae's Troubles: UT sophomore Trae Golden remains the Vols' leading scorer with 13.6 points per game, but an ankle injury suffered at the end of the 62-58 loss at Mississippi State on Jan. 12 appears to have affected his shooting touch.
Golden is 1-of-10 shooting beyond the 3-point arc since re-injuring the ankle in practice last Monday and has scored 20 points in the past three games, dropping his season average to 13.6 points per game.
Against UConn, Golden scored a season-low two points for the second consecutive game on 0-for-4 shooting with a 2-of-5 performance from the free-throw line while dishing out six assists and getting three steals.
Martin made it clear he was pleased with Golden's performance against the Huskies, saying, "I thought Trae had one of his better games all season.
"Even though he didn't score much, I thought he did a great job of running our team in many areas,'' he said. "He was communicating with the guys; I thought he did a tremendous job of really executing.''
Remember Me? Junior college transfer Dwight Miller and freshman Wes Washpun saw their first action in a while, both playing sparingly against UConn.
Miller, a 6-foot-8 forward who has found himself buried in the Vols' suddenly deep front-line rotation, was 0-for-2 shooting with a rebound in the five minutes he played.
It was Miller's first action since the Jan. 12 Mississippi State game and his first shot attempts since he made the only basket he attempted in the four minutes he played against The Citadel on Dec. 29.
Washpun, who has struggled with the demands of collegiate basketball, had one steal and one turnover in the one minute he played at point guard.
Washpun didn't report to UT until the fall and has been playing catch-up with his development ever since. Saturday was Washpun's first action since scoring two points in nine minutes of the Vols' 67-56 win over then-No. 13 Florida on Jan. 7.
Defense: The Vols held UConn to 36.4-percent shooting, the Huskies' second-worst effort from the field of the season. It was just the 12th time in UConn's past 163 games that the Huskies were held below 60 points, and the 57 points were a season low.
Tennessee has held three teams, UConn, Florida (56) and Kentucky (65) to their season-low in points.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32