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January 4, 2009

Tiller happy with homecoming win

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ATHENS, GA--Saturday's game against Georgia served as a reunion for multiple Tigers.

Leo Lyons played prep school basketball with Georgia's Terrance Woodbury at Coastal Christian Academy in Virginia, and DeMarre Carroll, Michael Anderson, Jr., Keith Ramsey and Miguel Paul hail from southern states. They each had family and friends attend the game.

But the largest - and loudest - contingent of Tiger supporters came to see native son J.T. Tiller. Tiller grew up in Marietta, Ga., about an hour and half west of Athens, and went to Wheeler High School.

Tiller's cheering section, which he said was around 40 people, had the familiar M-I-Z-Z-O-U chant echoing through Stegeman Coliseum. The vocal support didn't go unnoticed by Tiller.

"It was exciting to hear," Tiller said after the game. "We had our own section pretty much louder than the whole gym."

Tiller, who finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals, said he wasn't worried about impressing his family. While not many believed him, coach Mike Anderson praised his guard's composure.

"It meant a little bit more to him," Anderson said. "There's no question about it. And I'm glad to see it, because I always say it could go one of two ways. You can try so hard that things kind of blow up in front of you, but I thought he did a great job of playing team basketball."

Tiller still has his harshest critic to worry about: his father.

"He told me it was a good game, but I feel like there's more to come," Tiller laughed. "But I don't think it will be too bad."

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