Curled up in a car for an eight-hour drive, Anthony Brock tried to sleep. The Alabama junior had attended his grandmother's funeral on Saturday, missed his flight, and then asked his cousin Raymond to play the hero by being an all-nightchauffeur from Little Rock to Knoxville.
When he arrived on Sunday morning, Anthony had just enough energy left to follow suit.
With emotions swirling and little rest, Brock gave the Crimson Tide a 70-67 win over Tennessee with a dramatic, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key that launched pandemonium on the floor and silenced a crowd of 20,493 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"It was tough, it was hard, and I felt down," said Brock, who lost Virginia Brock, 71, to a heart attack on Feb. 25.
"But she helped me on that one."
Alabama (17-13, 7-9 Southeastern Conference), winners of four of five, is the West No. 4 seed and will face East No. 5 Vanderbilt (19-11, 8-8) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the SEC tournament. The winner plays East No. 1 Tennessee (19-11, 10-6).
With 4.2 seconds left, senior Alonzo Gee passed from under the opposite goal to JaMychal Green, who shoveled it to Brock.
"If I could get a look at the basketball, I could get it up there," Brock said.
The junior college transfer dribble quickly, glanced at the rim, and banked it in over UT's Bobby Maze for his first game-winner. Interim coach Philip Pearson said the plan was to have either Brock or point guard Mikhail Torrance attack the defense, though it didn't work out that way.
When Brock lofted the off-balance shot, minds raced.
"It sort of looked online, but it happened so fast," Pearson said.
"I was hopping around. I wanted to get off the court before they decided it wasn't good."
"I was just looking like, `Dang, it looks like it's fixing to go in.'"
It wasn't the first time Brock had thrived in the face of adversity. Raymond had driven Anthony from Little Rock to Oxford after his grandmother's death before last week's win over Ole Miss. All he did was drop 17 points.
What would Victoria have thought of what happened on Sunday? Ask the cousin who said he didn't drink one Red Bull while sharing with his wife a marathon drive.
"She'd be very proud," Raymond Brock, 29, said.
"We all are."
Alabama controlled the game at the outset. An 8-0 run in the first half gave UA a 29-18 lead, and the margin was 10 at halftime. UT made just one 3-pointer and shot 39 percent from the field.
It nearly disappeared out of the locker room when back-to-back 3-balls by Wayne Chism helped draw the Vols within one, 43-42.
"We knew they were going to make a run," said Torrance, who had 12 points.
"We had to stay together."
The Vols finally retook the lead on a Chism 3 that made it 49-48 with 10 minutes to go. Yet Tennessee never took control, thanks in part to going 6-of-16 (38 percent) from the foul line in the second half.
"That's a loss of focus," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said,
"and a loss of urgency."
With UT up 67-65, Gee hit a floater to set up two Tennessee possessions in the final 1:15. Maze missed a 3, but Yamene Coleman traveled while corralling the rebound with 41 seconds left.
"We kind of hunkered down in our 2-3 zone," Pearson said. "We got a contested (shot) when it counted."
Green partially blocked a Tyler Smith jumper, and Smith lost a rebound out of bounds. That set the stage for Brock to come off the bench and win it.
"I called it," Raymond said.
"I said, `Anthony's going in the game, he's wiping his shoes off, he's going in the game. He's going to make it. He made it. I called it.'"