J.T. Tiller: Less talk, more action - KMOV.com

J.T. Tiller: Less talk, more action

From the University of Missouri Recreation Center to Madison Square Garden, there are many basketball players who talk a lot but don't back it up on the court.

On the flip side, there are some quiet players who let their game do the talking.

Tigers junior guard J.T. Tiller is one of those players.

Between his soft-spoken demeanor and unselfish play, it's easy for both the media and fans to overlook Tiller.

Until you watch him play defense.

"We call him the defensive specialist," forward DeMarre Carroll said. "If you bring in one of your top scorers, we're going to bring J.T. at him."

"He leads us on defense," Carroll continued. "He's our knockout blow. When you throw a blow at us, we knock you out with J.T."

Sherron Collins would likely agree. The Kansas guard is averaging 18 points a game, but was held to just 9 in the Tigers exhilarating 62-60 win over the Jayhawks earlier this month. Tiller guarded Collins nearly the entire night.

Ditto Texas guard A.J. Abrams, who is averaging 17 points per game. Abrams notched only 11 points while being guarded by Tiller in the Longhorns loss to Missouri earlier this season.

Tiller takes his the role of guarding opponents' best players very seriously.

"You just take it as a big challenge," Tiller said. "You don't want to let the team down."

Tiller admitted guarding such prolific scorers is a tall task and compared it to "acing one of these Mizzou tests."

Coach Mike Anderson says Tiller is one of the best defensive players he's ever coached. Anderson likes Tiller even more this year because he is able to actually stay on the court.

"J.T. is very, very aggressive. He doesn't like to give up anything so sometimes I think he's a little too aggressive," Anderson explained. "You look at the first couple years, he picked up fouls real quick."

But, Anderson added, "He's a lot smarter [this season]."

Tiller nets 8 points a game and is spending plenty of time on the court, averaging 23 minutes a contest, which is second on the team behind only Carroll.

Anderson also noted that Tiller is a pass first point guard able to create opportunities for his teammates - like Carroll and forward Leo Lyons, who combine to average 31 points a game.

Tiller is a native of Marietta, Georgia and is majoring in International Business. His father is in the military and credits him for instilling values Tiller still takes out onto the floor.

"On the court, you want to do the best you can every time you can," Tiller said, "because tomorrow's not promised."

Anderson seems to like that attitude.

"He just keeps coming at you," the coach said.

Freshmen guard Kim English agrees. When prodded on what J.T. stands for, English gave the best answer he could.

"Just tenacious."

Michael Bittner is a journalism student at the University of Missouri-Columbia

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