CORAL GABLES, Florida (Ticker) -- Darius Rice showed that his Uncle Jerry is not the only one who can come up big in important games.
Rice scored a career-high 43 points, including a 3-pointer with one-half second left, to lift Miami past eighth-ranked Connecticut, 77-76, in the inaugural Big East Conference game at the Convocation Center.
Trailing, 76-72, after UConn's Ben Gordon made two free throws with nine seconds left, the Hurricanes halved the deficit with three seconds remaining on a layup by Armondo Surratt.
Rice stole Shamon Tooles' inbounds pass, spotted up from the right baseline and drained his seventh 3-pointer to give Miami (8-7, 1-3 Big East) its first conference win.
"My hand touched the ball, I grabbed it, shot it and got a good look and it went in," said Rice, whose 43 points tie him for third on the Big East's all-time single-game scoring list.
"That was a tremendous shot by Rice," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "We had the wrong kid take the ball out of bounds and it cost us."
Rice, the nephew of Oakland Raiders receiver Jerry Rice, went 16-of-27 from the field.
"My teammates did a great job of getting me open tonight and I was feeling it all night," Rice said.
Gordon scored a career-high 32 points for the Huskies (11-3, 2-1), who have lost two in a row and three straight on the road.
The Hurricanes led by as many as 14 points in the first half and eight in the second before the Huskies caught them with a 6-0 burst. Rashod Anderson's 3-pointer with 10:05 to go gave Connecticut a 51-50 lead.
The lead changed hands six times before an 8-0 run gave UConn its biggest advantage. Trailing 64-61, Gordon hit a free throw and a 3-pointer around two foul shots by Taliek Brown to put the Huskies on top. Gordon followed his 3-pointer with a bucket, giving Connecticut a 69-64 edge with 76 seconds left.
Trailing 72-68, the Hurricanes got within two on a pair of free throws by James Jones. Tony Robertson hit two foul shots and Surratt countered with a basket before two free throws by Gordon gave UConn a 76-72 edge.
"My biggest disappointment is this was a defining moment and we came up short," said Calhoun, whose team was a sub-par 16-of-30 from the foul line.
Surratt was a key weapon down the stretch, driving to the basket for layups three times in the final 32 seconds. He finished with nine points and five rebounds and Jones scored 11 points for Miami, which shot 46 percent (28-of-61) from the field.
The Hurricanes improved to 7-0 at home and dished out some revenge for the Huskies' 83-80 overtime triumph in Storrs on January 11.
"I told the kids, `Let's get a steal and James Jones will knock down a three,'" Miami coach Perry Clark said. "I had the wrong player singled out for the shot."
Gordon was 12-of-14 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also had six rebounds, four assists and four blocks for Connecticut.
The Huskies lost despite shooting 56 percent (28-of-61) from the floor, including a 60 percent (15-of-25) effort in the second half.
"I am devastated right now," Calhoun said. "With 3.2 seconds left, something bad happens. We have to bounce back."