Cameron Tatum snaps out of slump against Huskies

Roller coaster ride continues for senior

Tennessee guard Cameron Tatum (23) passes the ball during the game against Connecticut at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012.  Tatum scored 15 points for the Vols during their 60-57 win over Connecticut.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Cameron Tatum (23) passes the ball during the game against Connecticut at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. Tatum scored 15 points for the Vols during their 60-57 win over Connecticut. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

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

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Comments » 16

carbonzip writes:

Let's not overlook Richardson who is playing terriffic defense.

johnlg00 writes:

Loved Cam's game Saturday, but the team needs more than a few great games a season out of him. He doesn't have to be as good as he was against UConn every time out, but he can't have ANY more games like he had at MSU the rest of the way. After Golden, he is the MAIN answer to the question of how well the Vols will do this year. I think we can expect a lot out of Stokes and Maymon most games, but SOMEBODY on the perimeter has to deliver steadily also. It's not likely to be McRae on past evidence, Richardson isn't going to scare anybody offensively, this year at least, and McBee isn't going to get enough shots to make the difference more than occasionally.

VolunteerLifer writes:

A fifth year senior like Cam just has to be depended upon for performance and leadership. Let's hope he keeps getting it done the way he did against uconn. He's done a good job of adapting to Martin's style of play, for the most part, even though he was recruited for Pearl's style. I salute him for that.

It can't be a good sign for Washpun that Stanton is walking on this semester. If Martin was satisfied with what he has in Wes, then I don't think Stanton comes to UT. Washpun, like McRae, is so willowy thin that I don't think he can stand up to the physical demands of the kind of down and dirty man to man defense Martin favors. I wouldn't be surprised if he transfers if Stanton takes his back-up position.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Tatum, Tatum, Tatum, what we gonna DO with you?
Nothing if you just keep playing as well as you did against UCONN.
Don't be too surprised if Golden keeps the point next year. You guys know he's learning. That said he would make a great 2 man wouldn't he?

Bubba_Knows writes:

This team has proved that they should not be losing to the likes of Georgia. They just need to get more consistent and bring it every game.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Let's not overlook Richardson who is playing terriffic defense.

I don't think anyone who follows the team will. I really like this freshman. At times I've liked Washpun too on defense. But unlike Washpun at times Richardson shows scoring potential. Even without Quinton next year things are looking up. The point is still questionable I guess. But Golden I think looked a whole lot better against UCONN and he didn't even have to score. That's what a Point does. A great point can score too.
Well I'm just usually thinking "out loud" on here though it sounds like I'm teaching .lol

underthehill writes:

Seems to me Martin is getting the most out of what he has to work with, including Tatum. I was interested that Don Devoe said UT is a different team with Stokes now and predicted they will beat Vandy and Auburn this week. I look for Richardson to guard Jenkins..maybe Washpun some to because he has the speed to do it..we'll see..Hope Devoe is right...

murrayvol writes:

Cam's career is filled with peaks and valleys. Some sustained effort and success would be nice. This is his last ride so we'll see.

volaholic45 writes:

We need a few perimeter points to win, so every game is a crapshoot hoping that Tatum, Golden, McBee, Woolridge, whoever, can get hot. If a few treys drop, the team has proven they can beat most anybody. Thus Cam's usefulness to the team.

BTW, how many athletes will go into their post-sports life thinking "short-term memory" is the ability to forget what happened recently?

brod writes:

tatum has length and ability to score inside the paint. he is more effective as a role player than as a go to scorer. he had a bad year defensively last year but has come out of it for the most part. he also missed a key free throw down at florida last year but seems to have improved in that department as well. maybe he can stay hot and help the team survive the storm at vandy.

lomas98 writes:

That GA loss will be huge for this team when you look back at the season. They finally got a good non conference win. If they were sitting at 10-9 and 2-2 in conference, what a difference it would make. If someone said at the beginning of the season we would be 2-1 against FL, KY, and UConn at home I think all of us would jump on that. It is a shame to have that record against those 3 but still be 9-10. The team is improving which is all that matters. Going to be a tough game tomorrow night...Vandy is a tough matchup at just about every position and I think a real solid team.

bkgunter writes:

I've always liked this guy---he's made significant contributions to big wins for the program for years. But he is uneven. Can't question the work ethic, though.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to lomas98:

That GA loss will be huge for this team when you look back at the season. They finally got a good non conference win. If they were sitting at 10-9 and 2-2 in conference, what a difference it would make. If someone said at the beginning of the season we would be 2-1 against FL, KY, and UConn at home I think all of us would jump on that. It is a shame to have that record against those 3 but still be 9-10. The team is improving which is all that matters. Going to be a tough game tomorrow night...Vandy is a tough matchup at just about every position and I think a real solid team.

We want a win at Vandy. THAT would give some of our players the confidence they need I think and hope to finish out the year in a respectable manner. It'll be tough to win even most of our remaining games. BUT it now seems we'll be tough to beat by anyone...including Vandy, Florida, and Kentucky. One game at a time though. Gotta get this road win at Vandy.
Again I think defense is the key, and Golden's point play is extremely important this game. He doesn't need to worry about scoring against a perimeter team as much as control on offense. Good passes, good timing, good ball control. Use the other guards to get it to the post as well. We have to go inside a lot. NO turnovers!!!
Golly other than those things I think it's a cinch.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

We want a win at Vandy. THAT would give some of our players the confidence they need I think and hope to finish out the year in a respectable manner. It'll be tough to win even most of our remaining games. BUT it now seems we'll be tough to beat by anyone...including Vandy, Florida, and Kentucky. One game at a time though. Gotta get this road win at Vandy.
Again I think defense is the key, and Golden's point play is extremely important this game. He doesn't need to worry about scoring against a perimeter team as much as control on offense. Good passes, good timing, good ball control. Use the other guards to get it to the post as well. We have to go inside a lot. NO turnovers!!!
Golly other than those things I think it's a cinch.

btw Golden if you're hot ignore the "scoring" not necessary comment.

murrayvol writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

They're very good. It's a shame they had to wear those crappy blue outfits.

johnlg00 writes:

If Tatum can show up the rest of the way like he did against UConn, he could help carry this team a lot further than some think. He doesn't have to be the high-point man every night, but he does need to cash in on the opportunities he gets, play good defense, and TAKE CARE OF THE BALL all the time.

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