March 12, 2009
Danny P Smith -
University of Alabama men''s basketball junior guard Anthony Brock has shown he can perform in the clutch despite missing practice time.
Brock might have been late joining the team for a trip to Knoxville, Tenn., and Sunday''s game against Tennessee, but he still helped the Crimson Tide beat the Volunteers 70-67.
Brock''s 30-foot bank shot gave Alabama the victory and helped the Crimson Tide secure the fourth seed from the Western Division for this week''s Southeastern Conference tournament.
Alabama (17-13) will face another opponent from the state of Tennessee when it plays Vanderbilt at 6:30 p.m. today at the SEC tournament in Tampa, Fla.
Alabama interim coach Philip Pearson calls Brock, who played in a national championship tournament at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, a winner.
"He''s been around a lot of winning," Pearson said. "He''s a point guard by nature and it''s a position he''s grown up playing. I''ve had no reservation giving him minutes and playing time."
Pearson said Brock had difficulty arriving in Knoxville after the funeral of his grandmother in Little Rock, Ark., on Saturday.
The plan was for Brock to use a plane ticket he had not used to fly from Little Rock to Knoxville.
Brock did not practice with the team Friday or Saturday in Knoxville before Pearson got a text message from him at 5 p.m. Saturday.
"The text message said (Brock) missed his flight and his cousin is bringing me," Pearson said. "I called him to find out what was up and he said the grave site was a little further out than he realized. He had to go back to the house and get his bag. When they got to the airport, they had closed the gate.
"His cousin drove him and he got there in the middle of the night. He hadn''t practiced in two days and had a great game."
After a timeout, Brock, who was 3 of 3 from the 3-point line, dribbled through traffic, pulled up, and hit the game-winner as time expired.
Brock (5.4 points per game) is beginning to blend in with Alonzo Gee (14.8 ppg., 7.3 rebounds per game), Senario Hillman (13.3 ppg.), and JaMychal Green (10.3 ppg.).
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said Alabama has improved from when his team beat the Crimson Tide 79-74 on Feb. 5.
"They are shooting the ball better from the perimeter than they were the first time around," Stallings said. "That''s really enhanced what they are doing offensively. That seems to be what is standing out. We''re going to have to defend them well enough to get them to miss some."
Vanderbilt (19-11) closed the regular season with victories against South Carolina (96-83), LSU (75-67), and Arkansas (75-58).
Vanderbilt is getting contributions from A.J. Oglivy (15.7 ppg.), who scored 33 points against LSU, Jermaine Beal (12.7 ppg.), and Jeffery Taylor (12 ppg).
"I felt like we had a good finish to the regular season and probably played our best basketball of the season in the last couple of weeks" Stallings said. "There is a level of accountability with our team and for our play. We''re getting some leadership within the team and better than earlier in the year and more of it. Those things have made a difference."