It was only Higginson's second match at snooker's Theatre of Dreams and he played superbly to beat arguably the best player in the world over the past three months. Lee won the PTC Grand Finals and reached the final of the Haikou World Open, but has still not appeared in the last 16 in Sheffield since 2006 (Phil Haigh writes).
Widnes Warrior Higginson had battled hard to forge a 5-4 lead in Monday's evening session and he continued where he left off with a fine performance which saw him win five of the seven frames played on Tuesday night.
Higginson claimed the first frame of the evening but Lee made it clear he was not going to roll over as he knocked in a fabulous 102 break to stay very much in touch. The match remained in the balance as the two shared two very tight frames to move the score on to 7-6 in Higginson's favour.
The world number 19 stepped on the gas as he saw the finish line though as he compiled a quality 111 and then a 51 to put him just one away from victory at 9-6. Lee could not muster a response in what proved to be the last as Higginson managed a run of 61 to clinch victory.
"I'm over the moon to get through," said former Welsh Open finalist Higginson, who won PTC5 earlier this season. "Stephen's been the most consistent player over the last three or four months, he's been the best player in the world in my eyes, so to play him and to get one over on him is an achievement in itself, so I'm thrilled.
"It's fantastic just to play here, to actually win and look up and see your friends and family it just makes it that little bit more special."
Higginson will now play fellow qualifier Jamie Jones and added: "Jamie wasn't gifted the match against Shaun Murphy, he won it and played really well.
"Everyone was expecting Murphy to get through and all the seeds, but the standard of the game is very very high and Jamie deserves to be where he is because of the way he played.
"I know I'm in for a tough match and I hope he is as well."
Barry Hawkins will take a 6-3 lead over Mark Selby after a late finish to their opening session (Matthew Thomas writes).
Hawkins, who has only progressed beyond the first round once in his last six appearances at the Crucible, took advantage of an unlucky split from Selby to take the opening frame to make a break of 73 before the world number 1 replied with 64 in the second. Both players had chances in frame 3 but Hawkins got in with a 58 to lead for a second time. And a 64 gave him a 3-1 lead at the interval.
Selby levelled the match by winning the two after the interval before Hawkins moved ahead again with a 63 in frame 7. Frame 8 lasted all of 51 minutes after Selby attempted to gain the snookers he needed but failed and fell 2 behind again. Another scrappy frame saw Hawkins finish with a break of 41 to give himself a 3 frame cushion going into tomorrow.
Ball by ball scoring and results from tournaments