Darius Rice, Miami Upend UConn 77-76
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) _ Even with the ball, a two-point lead and 4 seconds left, Connecticut couldn’t stop Darius Rice.
The nephew of Oakland Raiders receiver Jerry Rice stole an inbounds pass and sank a 3-pointer at the final buzzer Monday night, capping a 43-point performance and giving the Miami Hurricanes a 77-76 victory over the 11th-ranked Huskies.
``It took a second to realize we won the game,″ Miami coach Perry Clark said.
UConn appeared to clinch a victory when Ben Gordon hit two free throws with 8.9 seconds left to put the Huskies ahead 76-72.
But Miami’s Armondo Surratt drove for an uncontested layup with 4 seconds to go and Shamon Tooles’ hurried inbounds pass was stolen in the corner by Rice.
``He rushed it. I knew he had panicked,″ Rice said. ``I said, `This is mine.′ I shot it, and I had no doubt it was going in. That’s how much confidence I had.″
When the shot swished, a jubilant Rice sprinted the length of the court with his fists in the air as Hurricanes fans poured onto the floor to celebrate.
In other games involving ranked teams, No. 7 Oklahoma beat Texas Tech 69-64 in overtime, and No. 10 Creighton downed Illinois State 95-82.
The defeat left UConn players crying in their locker room. Coach Jim Calhoun said Taliek Brown, rather than Tooles, was supposed to inbound the ball that Rice intercepted.
``I did the wrong thing by passing it,″ said Tooles, his eyes red. ``I cost us the game. They trusted me to be in the game. I’m supposed to make the correct pass.″
Miami (8-7, 1-3 Big East) broke a three-game losing streak, including an overtime loss at UConn on Jan. 11. The Huskies (11-3, 2-1), beaten Saturday at North Carolina, have lost two in a row for the first time since last Feb. 2.
``It’s a devastating loss for us, the way it happened,″ Calhoun said. ``We fought back exceptionally hard in the second half, and then made a very, very, very poor play for a guy who hadn’t taken the ball out the entire night _ an unfortunate thing for Shamon to have happen to him.″
The Huskies fell behind by double digits in the first half for the sixth game in a row. They overcame a 14-point deficit, only to miss three free throws in the final minute. They finished 16-for-30 from the line and committed 19 turnovers.
``You can’t blame it all on one play,″ said Gordon, a sophomore who scored a career-high 32 points. ``Down the stretch, we didn’t make free throws, we allowed their guards to make some easy baskets and we had another awful start with turnovers and getting down by 10. All those things factor in.″
The biggest factor was Rice. The 6-foot-10 junior had his career-best scoring performance _ tied for the third-highest in Big East history. He made 16 of 27 shots, including seven of 12 3-pointers.
``It was just one of those nights,″ Rice said. ``The basket was as big as the ocean.″
The victory could be the start of a big week for the Rice family. Darius’ uncle will play in the Super Bowl on Sunday against Tampa Bay.
``Raiders by 15,″ Darius predicted.
The Hurricanes’ only other double-figure scorer was James Jones with 11 points.
Brown scored 13 points for UConn, which lost despite shooting 56 percent. Center Emeka Okafor had just seven points, five rebounds and no blocks, all well below his averages.
The Huskies rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit, and Gordon’s 3-pointer put them ahead 67-64 with two minutes left. After a Miami turnover, Gordon sliced through the defense to make it 69-64.
But the Hurricanes scored 13 points in the final minute as they kept fouling UConn to get the ball back.
``Fans might have been leaving, and people might have thought this game was over,″ Clark said. ``But our kids just did not give up.″
No. 7 Oklahoma 69, Texas Tech 64, OT
At Norman, Okla., Hollis Price made a shot at the buzzer to force overtime, then scored five of Oklahoma’s nine points in the extra period as the Sooners (12-3, 3-1 Big 12) won their 32nd straight at home.
Price, who left briefly after getting hit in the face on a fastbreak, finished with 23 points and came through twice at the end of regulation. First, he got fouled on a 3-point try with 22.3 seconds left and made all three free throws to tie it at 58.
Will Chavis made both ends of a 1-and-1 to give Texas Tech (11-3, 1-2) a 60-58 lead with 4.5 seconds to play.
Oklahoma inbounded to Price, who dribbled the length of the floor and hit a jumper from about 15 feet to send the game to overtime.
No. 10 Creighton 95, Illinois State 82
At Omaha, Neb., Larry House had career highs of 23 points and eight rebounds as Creighton (16-1, 7-0 Missouri Valley Conference) won its sixth straight just hours after moving into the Top 10 for the first time.
House, who came in averaging 9.1 points, picked up the scoring slack on a night when star forward Kyle Korver was held to 17 points.
Illinois State (1-14, 0-7) dropped its eighth in a row.