Heavenly half

The most impressive thing about Cameron Tatum's performance in Thursday night's Rocky Top Summer League basketball action wasn't the fact he scored 23 points.

It wasn't the fact he hit 9 of 20 shots. It wasn't even the fact he drained 5 of 12 tries from beyond the 3-point arc.

No, the most impressive thing about Tatum's performance was this: He accomplished all of the above in ONE HALF of basketball.

While his Choice Spine teammates were playing the first half of their game with The Knoxville News-Sentinel, the University of Tennessee junior was still en route to Knoxville's Bearden High Gym.

"I was waiting on my ride, and my ride never came," he explained sheepishly. "I'm not going to say who it is."

Given how brilliantly he played Thursday night, maybe Tatum should skip the first half of every game the rest of his career ...

"Maybe so," he said, flashing a big grin. "Maybe so."

Cameron Tatum's second-half explosion Thursday night was reminiscent of his first-half explosion for the Vols vs. Gonzaga on Jan. 7, 2009. He scored Tennessee's first 14 points that evening and had 19 by intermission en route to a career-high 22.

After taking a few practice shots at halftime Thursday night, Tatum opened the second half by nailing a 3-pointer. Following a series of acrobatic dunks, he made four consecutive 3-pointers - a couple being launched from NBA distance - before finally cooling off a bit.

"I was just trying to keep the energy up," he said. "My teammates was playing really well, so I wasn't trying to do too much, but I got hot."

He got hot, all right ... molten lava hot.

"Yeah, when you get your confidence rolling, you start thinking everything you shoot is going in," he said. "My teammates kept finding me, and I just kept shooting."

And the shots kept falling ... whether he was open or closely guarded ... whether he was on the move or standing still ... whether he was on top of the key, on the wing or in the corner. It was a stunning display of offensive basketball for a guy who averaged just 7.4 points per game as a Vol sophomore last season.

"I wasn't surprised," he said matter of factly. "I've been working extremely hard all offseason, trying to get more consistency. Everybody tells me I'm a great shooter but I need to be more consistent in everything - my drives to the bucket, making smart plays, getting in the passing lanes and making defensive plays."


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