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03-09-09, 11:46 PM #1
Bama b-ball player misses team flight to Knoxville to attend funeral. Then he drives 8 hours to the game and hits the game winner
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Maybe there is some magic left in this grim basketball season at Alabama
And if not, there was at least one moment that qualifies.
The schedule played out Sunday with diminutive Crimson Tide point guard Anthony Brock being hoisted in the air by two teammates, pumping his fist to a stunned, silenced 20,493 at Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena.
Brock's free-wheeling drive and 3-point bank shot beat the buzzer and the SEC East champion Volunteers 70-67.
Alabama's coaches, players and officials, those who endured turmoil of lost expectations and a midseason coaching change, leaped off the bench and celebrated as if the team had just won something a lot more than the West's No. 4 seed in this week's SEC tournament.
"It's great right now, a good shot in the arm for our guys," Crimson Tide coach Philip Pearson said. "We go down to Tampa having won four out of five, probably feeling pretty good, a lot better. It's a lot better than losing one at the buzzer, I promise you."
And those who say divine intervention has no place in the outcome of a basketball game, Brock is no longer among you.
While attending a funeral Saturday in Little Rock, Ark., for his grandmother Virginia, Brock missed his 4 p.m. flight. Thus he rode more than eight hours overnight with his cousin, sleeping when he could, to reach Knoxville in time for Saturday morning's pregame meal.
It was the first game-winning shot of Brock's entire basketball career.
"She helped me on that one," Brock said.
Brock played only 15 minutes, but Pearson turned to him with 4.2 seconds remaining and the Crimson Tide having to go the length of the court against Tennessee's full-court press defense to break a tie score. The play was originally supposed to go to Mikhail Torrance, but neither he nor Brock was open to receive the inbounds pass off a screen.
JaMychal Green broke to receive it, then found Brock, who skirted down the right sideline and pulled up near the top of key, at least 25 feet from the basket.
Tennessee's Bobby Maze contested the heave, which banged off the glass and directly through the basket.
"Nah, I didn't call it," Brock said with a smile. "With four seconds left, that's enough time to get all the way to the hole. But they cut me off a little bit, so I just figured I was going to shoot it."
That one shot gave the Crimson Tide its second consecutive SEC road victory after the program had lost 18 in a row. It also clinched a higher seed for the SEC tournament. Alabama (17-13, 7-9 SEC) will now open at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against surging East No. 5 Vanderbilt (19-11, 8-8), which has won three in a row.
The winner draws Tennessee (19-11, 10-6), which retains the East No. 1 seed despite a listless performance Sunday.
Pearson arrived determined to play a 2-3 zone defense most of the game, and it worked to slow the run-and-gun Vols, which seemingly couldn't hit a free throw (10-of-22 from the line) or a 3-pointer (7-of-25), at least during the first 20 minutes.
Six of UT's 3-pointers came after halftime. An erratic 1-for-11 performance in the first half — all but one field goal was a lay-in — allowed Alabama a 10-point halftime lead.
"We took a step back," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "I don't think this is one you can recover from really quickly.
"I think now what we've got to do is we've got to turn our energy to the SEC tournament and say, 'Well, it looks like LSU is the best team in the SEC, followed then closely by either South Carolina or Tennessee.'"
Despite the slow start, the Vols finally got going and fought back to claim a 67-65 lead with 1:43 to play. But after Alabama's Alonzo Gee sank a jump shot, Tennessee's lengthy final possession included three missed shots, a Yamene Coleman travel while gathering a rebound and a key block by Green on Vols star Tyler Smith.
Alabama retained possession with 4.2 seconds remaining when Smith's second attempt bounced off the rim and landed on the baseline.
"I felt like 4.2 seconds is a lot of time," Pearson said. "Sometimes, you don't realize it, but it's enough time to get yourself in a good shooting position. And we actually got it, one, two passes."
Gee struggled to a 4-for-17 performance from the field, scoring nine points to miss double figures for the first time in a month. Guard Senario Hillman stepped in with a game-high 16 points, and Torrance added 12, including six from the free throw line.
Alabama improved on its 15-for-29 foul shooting effort in Tuesday's 77-73 loss to Auburn by sinking 16-of-19 against Tennessee.
"We were able to hang in there," Pearson said. "We got a big rebound or two when it counted. We got a contest when it counted.
"We'll take it."
03-09-09, 11:55 PM #2
Bama still sucks at B-ball. It is a damn shame with the talent that they have had too. However, a win over Tennessee in Knoxville is always nice.
I hope Mike Anderson decides to take the head coaching job at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway
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