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Following the 2009-10 basketball season, Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon essentially told redshirt freshman Dwight Miller he should (a) find a new school or (b) find a seat cushion to make squirming on the Panther bench a little more comfortable.

Miller decided to spend a year playing junior college ball at Midland (Texas) College, then transfer back to a major-college program.

"I remember we'd be on the bench last year and we'd have conversations," he recalled. "They'd be like: Dwight, if you transfer and come back and play Pitt you're probably going to get 40.

"That's probably not going to happen, but if it does I'll be happy."

Scoring 40 Saturday evening against Pitt appears to be a real longshot in view of the fact Miller managed just 17 points in Tennessee's first six games combined. Still, the first-year Vol is eager to face the program at which he began his college career.

"I was wanting to get on the floor at Pitt; this time I'll get on the floor against Pitt," he said with a soft chuckle. "It's going to be great to see those guys again.... The irony is that we talked about it all last year — made jokes about it — and now I'm getting the opportunity to play those guys."

Originally from Nassau, Bahamas, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Miller sat out Pitt's 2008-09 season, then averaged just 0.6 points, 1.1 rebounds and 5.3 minutes per game as a redshirt freshman in 2009-10. Given his limited role for the Panthers, he doesn't blame Dixon for nudging him toward the door.

"We talked about playing time and how the minutes were going to be allocated," Miller recalled. "I ended up drawing the short end of the stick on that one, so I didn't want to be that guy that sits back (on the team bus) and goes along for the ride."

Being a proud guy, Miller naturally will be looking to play well this weekend against the Panthers. He won't be looking for revenge, though.

"It didn't work out the way I wanted it to," he said, "but I want to approach this game just like it's another team. Obviously, I know a lot of those guys I built relationships with while I was at Pitt and it's nice to go against those guys in an actual real game."

Interestingly enough, his former roommate at Pitt is Ashton Gibbs, a guard who leads the 2011 Panthers in scoring (19.3 points per game) and assists (3.5 per game).

"We still text and talk a lot," Miller said. "We encourage one another when we have tough games. We always try to stay in touch.... I texted him the other day after they lost to LaSalle and told him to keep his head up but when they come here I think it's going to be another loss."

Pitt is 6-1 and ranked No. 17 nationally. Tennessee, 3-3, is coming off an 89-81 loss at Oakland. Like Duke and Michigan, the weary Vols dropped their first game back on the mainland after participating in the Maui Invitational last week. Eighteen hours in airplanes and airports take a lot out of a body, even a 20-year-old body.

"It was definitely exhausting," Miller conceded. "But, as Coach (Cuonzo Martin) talked about earlier: Having the mental toughness to come back the next day and practice (is critical).... Of course, you're going to be tired — you're a human being — but, at the same time it's your responsibility to get ready for the next game."

Odds are, getting ready for the "next game" will be no problem for Dwight Miller this week.

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