Cuonzo Martin on the Vols' road win
If Cuonzo Martin had hair he would have pulled out a fistful or two by now.
Coaching this Tennessee basketball team would be less stressful if Martin could reasonably predict what he was going to get from a given player on a given night.
Yet here we are in mid-February and the Vols are like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. Every game is a revelation of its own.
The consistency of UT's inconsistency is a factor in why the Vols took until Sunday to bag their first road win of the season, 66-61 at South Carolina.
Now they try to duplicate it on Wednesday at Vanderbilt. But drawing conclusions from one game to the next is a slippery slope.
In the big picture, there is a sameness to many of Tennessee's games. By the final horn, the Vols are going to score about 60 points, give or take a few.
The mystery comes in how they arrive at their more-or-less 60.
Player X might get two points one night, 12 the next then two the next. When you're hot, you're hot. And then, probably, you're not.
The steadiest Vol is Josh Richardson, who can be counted on for seven or eight points a game.
Otherwise, roll the dice.
Jordan McRae scored double figures in 10 of 11 games. In the four games since, he's scored seven, six, 17 and seven.
Just as McRae was cooling off, Jarnell Stokes was heating up. The last double-figure game in McRae's streak coincided with the first of Stokes' five consecutive double-doubles.
Stokes, who scored four points in a loss at Kentucky and six in a loss at Alabama, is enjoying the most consistent production of his career.
Trae Golden scored in double figures eight of UT's first 10 games. He's done so only three times since. One of them was Sunday, when his 16 points were just enough to get the Vols over the hump.
If anyone should be reliable, it's seniors. Not this year.
In an eight-game stretch from Xavier through the second Alabama game, Skylar McBee only hit more than one shot once. In the past four games, he's averaged 7.5 points, a good sign for a team desperate for outside shooting.
Kenny Hall operates closer to the basket than McBee, but is even more mercurial.
Hall blew up for 13 points against Memphis — then scored a total of 10 points during his next four games.
A 14-point outing at Arkansas was optimistically billed as a springboard. But not a springboard to the deep end. Hall scored six against Georgia and then two at South Carolina.
Late-arriving freshman Derek Reese figured to be a difference-making boost when he averaged 7.4 points in his first five games.
He's averaged 2.5 in the six games since.
So, you ask, doesn't this up-and-down business go on with every team? To a degree, yes.
Still, consider last year's UT squad that finished strong.
Jeronne Maymon scored in double figures 25 of 33 games and scored at least eight points in 31 of 33. In one of the two exceptions he played only two minutes.
Golden, starting with the SEC opener, scored in double figures 20 of the final 24 games.
That's two guys Martin could count on to weigh in every night, virtually money in the bank.
In hindsight, it was quite a luxury.