Originally created 02/21/99

Miami upsets No. 2 UConn



STORRS, Conn. -- The worst word for Miami to see since it joined the Big East in 1991 had been "at" as in "at anybody."

Now its the 15th-ranked Hurricanes' opponents who hate seeing them come to town.

Miami came up big on the road again, beating No. 2 Connecticut 73-71 Saturday. The Hurricanes matched the Big East record by finishing 8-1 in the league on the road this season and won at Connecticut for the first time ever.

"This was the game that everybody was waiting for," said Miami guard Johnny Hemsley, who did a forward roll after the final buzzer. "I remember coming here as a freshman and getting mutilated. Now we're leaving with a win."

The Hurricanes' only league road loss this season was to Pittsburgh and since then the road wins have been over St. John's, Syracuse, Providence and Connecticut. Not bad for a school that didn't win a road game until its fourth season in the league and had won a total of 11 in its history.

Connecticut, in 1994-95 and 1995-96, was the only Big East school to go 8-1 in the league on the road since the expansion in 1991.

"I really didn't know that about only one other school," Miami coach Leonard Hamilton said when asked if he was impressed with the 8-1 mark. "The season's not over. It's at the end of the season that you reflect, not on Feb. 20."

Hamilton did admit the turnabout on the road has come with maturity.

"We're more experienced, we're more talented and have a little more understanding of what we're trying to accomplish," he said.

The loss ended a 16-game winning streak for the Huskies at Gampel and dropped their record in the on-campus building to 59-9 since it opened in January 1990.

The Hurricanes almost beat the Huskies earlier in the season, losing 70-68 in overtime.

"They were a good team when we played in Miami and they're a good team now," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "I haven't changed my mind about them at all."

Tim James of Miami (18-6, 13-3) made two free throws with 1:40 left, the final points of the game, They came after the Huskies (23-2, 14-2) had scored eight straight points.

Richard Hamilton, again struggling from the field, missed a 3-pointer for Connecticut and Miami's Vernon Jennings missed a short jumper as the shot clock ran out.

After two timeouts the Huskies, who would have clinched at least a tie for the Big East regular season title, ran their final play and it ended with Khalid El-Amin slipping and falling as he let a 3-point attempt go.

Calhoun said the play was designed to go to Hamilton.

"He was as naked as a guy could be. And we kept passing it around," Calhoun said.

Hemsley finished with 19 points for the Hurricanes, who have won six straight and eight of nine, while James and Mario Bland each had 16 points.

Bland had 14 rebounds as the Hurricanes finished with a 49-34 advantage on the boards, including 18-14 on the offensive end.

"They killed us on the offensive glass," Calhoun said, referring to the reversal of the earlier meeting when the Huskies had a 22-12 edge in offensive rebounds.

El-Amin had 24 points for the Huskies, whose only previous loss was to Syracuse at the Hartford Civic Center when they were missing Hamilton and Jake Voskuhl with injuries. Hamilton finished with 19 points on 7-for-22 shooting, including 2-for-9 from 3-point range, and Kevin Freeman had 15 points.

Since Hamilton returned from the deep thigh bruise that caused him to miss the Syracuse game and the win at then-No. 4 Stanford he is 20-for-69 from the field and 4-for-29 from 3-point range in the four games.

Connecticut started the game looking more like the team that held the No. 1 ranking for 10 straight weeks this season, grabbing a 25-11 lead with 7:43 left in the first half.

Miami closed the first half with an 11-4 run that brought it within 41-35 despite committing 16 turnovers.

The Hurricanes, who admitted to some nerves in the early going, opened the second half with an 8-2 run to tie the game. James scored on a drive to give the Hurricanes a 47-45 lead with 17:08 left and the Huskies were never even again until the 8-0 run that tied it with 2:10 to play.