Brock, just back from family funeral, hits desperation 3 to lift Tide over Vols

Associated Press • Mar 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KNOXVILLE — Anthony Brock missed his flight from Little Rock, Ark., to Knoxville on Saturday after attending his grandmother’s funeral. Good thing he didn’t miss the game.

Brock hit a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to secure Alabama’s 70-67 upset of Tennessee on Sunday.

“We had a flight for him ... and he missed it so he drove all night to get here,” Crimson Tide coach Philip Pearson said. “The first time I saw him was about 8:30 this morning and he said, ‘Hey, what’s up coach?’ His cousin drove him all the way to Knoxville.

“I’ve got to meet this cousin.”

The win was the Tide’s fourth in the final five games of a regular season that included the midseason departure of coach Mark Gottfried, who resigned on Jan. 26 amid criticism of both the team’s play and departure of a star player.

Alabama (17-13, 7-9 Southeastern Conference) had been picked to win the Western Division but instead finished as a No. 4 seed, drawing a matchup with Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament Thursday.

Tennessee (19-11, 10-6) had already clinched a share of the SEC East title after winning three straight, including Thursday’s victory at South Carolina, but the loss means a shared title with the Gamecocks.

“We wanted the outright SEC East title,” Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said.

The Vols had grabbed a 67-65 lead on a fast-break dunk by Scotty Hopson with 1:43 left. Alabama called a timeout, and Alonzo Gee hit a jumper from the free throw line to tie the game at 67 with 1:15 left.

Tennessee’s Bobby Maze missed a 3- pointer, but the teams tied up the ball on the rebound and the Vols kept possession. They ran down the clock, and the game appeared headed to overtime when Tyler Smith missed a shot with about five seconds left and let the rebound go out of bounds.

Brock plowed through traffic out of Alabama’s timeout and hit the game-winning shot — his only one of the second half — as he tripped near the top of the key. He finished with 11 points.

“I was shocked. I’ve never hit a game-winner before,” Brock said.

Senario Hillman led Alabama with 16 points and Mikhail Torrance added 12. JaMychal Green grabbed 10 rebounds.

Wayne Chism led Tennessee with 13 points and 10 rebounds, Smith added 11 and Maze finished with 10.

The Tide dominated the first half after scoring eight straight points. A jumper by Alonzo Gee gave them a 29-18 lead with 5:20 left before halftime, and Alabama took a 39-29 lead into the break.

“We just never got out of bed,” Pearl said.

The Vols used an 11-0 run early in the second half to cut their deficit to 43-42 with 16:07 left. Back-to-back 3s by Chism and Cameron Tatum gave Tennessee a 52-48 lead with 4:44 left and the teams remained neck and neck for the rest of the game.

The Vols could have taken control with better free throw shooting. They went only 10-of-22 from the charity stripe compared to the Tide’s 16-for-19 at the line.

“It was tough. We just didn’t come out with any energy,” Smith said. “That’s the way we had come out in the last three games, with energy, and we just didn’t tonight.”

Alabama is one of only two SEC schools that leads its all-time series with Tennessee. The Tide now hold a 72-63 advantage after winning eight of the past 11 against the Vols. The victory was Alabama’s 20th in Knoxville.

“It was big for us to get this win so we have our confidence (in the tournament),” Gee said.

Pearson finishes the regular season 5-6 after Gottfried opened the season 12-7.

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