SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Alabama senior guard Antoine Pettway did not blink.
Pettway's runner in the lane with five seconds left lifted the eighth-seeded Crimson Tide to a thrilling 65-64 victory over No. 9 Southern Illinois in the first round of the Phoenix Region.
Southern Illinois (25-5) erased a 10-point deficit in the final 19 minutes behind Darren Brooks, the Player of the Year in the Missouri Valley Conference, who scored 25 points and made all five 3-point attempts.
Alabama overcame an impressive 3-point display by the Salukis, who made 12-of-22 shots from beyond the arc.
After Emmett Thomas hit 2-of-3 free throws to give Alabama (18-12) a 63-62 lead, Brooks pump-faked at the foul line and hit a leaner in the lane to put the Salukis ahead with 13 seconds to go.
But Pettway, an Alabama native, came right back for the Crimson Tide, dribbling past a defender and hitting a six-footer.
"We've been in this type of situation before," said Pettway, who scored only six points on 2-of-8 shooting. "He (Southern Illinois center Sylvester Willis) fouled me and I pump-faked and shot on the run and it went in."
"I just saw him coming right at me and he just floated it up there as high as he probably could," Willis added. "I looked up and it was in the net. It was like a dagger."
Alabama knew it had the ball in the right player's hands.
"I don't know if we've got any other player on the team that could have taken that shot at the end," said Alabama guard Earnest Shelton, who led the Crimson Tide with 18 points. He's made it time and time again. He stepped up again."
After Alabama gave a foul with 2.8 seconds left, Southern Illinois got the ball to Brooks, but his jumper from the left wing caromed off the back of the rim at the buzzer.
"(Kennedy) Winston was on me," Brooks said. "They had it spread so I could get to the hole. I only had 2.8 seconds. I knew I probably couldn't get all the way to the basket, but I could try to make a play. The shot looked good when it left my hand but it started going left when it got closer to the rim, so I knew it probably wasn't going to go in."
Winston added 14 points for the Crimson Tide, who entered the tournament with the worst record of any at-large team but played the second toughest schedule in the country.
"They guarded as just as good as anybody in our league (Southeastern Conference), but we were kind of used to it from playing teams like Kentucky and Arkansas, so we knew what to expect," Winston said. "But their defense was pretty good the whole game."
Winston scored eight straight points for Alabama late in the first half, helping the Crimson Tide build a 34-24 lead the intermission.
But the Salukis roared back behind their outside shooting, hitting eight of their first 3-pointers in the second half. A driving layup by Brad Korn, who contributed 15 points, gave Southern Illinois a 62-61 lead with 1:49 remaining.
"Our guys made some good adjustments and stepped up in the second half and made some tough shots," Salukis coach Matt Painter said. "We just went up against a very good Alabama team."