- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

The big fella kept Georgetown perfect.
With 13 NBA scouts sitting courtside, Mike Sweetney showed why he is a potential NBA lottery pick, posting his 25th career double-double to enable Georgetown (5-0) to pass its first major test of the season. He had a season-high 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Hoyas defeated South Carolina 67-59 last night before 5,469 at MCI Center.
Sweetney was a monster in the paint. The previously undefeated Gamecocks tried everything to stop the player from Oxon Hill and nothing worked. It was a simple recipe for victory: Dump the ball down to No.34 and watch the blue and gray bruiser go to work.
The junior powered his way through the Gamecocks' interior little spin moves, short jump hooks and strong power layups were all among Sweetney's weapons.
"Mike's always huge," said Hoyas shooting guard Gerald Riley, who chipped his front tooth going for a loose ball with 10:54 left in the first half. "He's a big part of our offense and defense. Tonight he really stepped up. He's our man. We know what we've got to do to get the victory."
Sweetney has scored 20 or more points in four of Georgetown's five games this season. Sweetney made 12 of 24 shots from the floor and added two blocks and three steals to his line.
"I missed a lot of shots I should have made," Sweetney said. "I'm kind of disappointed in myself, but I didn't get down, I kept shooting."
With his 27 points, Sweetney raised his team-leading scoring average to 21. Whenever Georgetown hit a dry spell, it went to Sweetney to break the drought.
Tony Bethel, Georgetown's sophomore point guard, made two big 3-pointers that staved off a South Carolina second-half rally. With the Hoyas trailing 40-39, Bethel nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Hoyas a 42-40 lead with 13:53 left.
With the Hoyas again trailing 45-42 with 12:28 left, Bethel made another 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie it. The Hoyas outscored the Gamecocks 22-14 the rest of the way.
"[Sweetney] helped us, but I think in terms of giving us the spirit, I thought that Tony's shots gave us the spirit to come back," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. "It took away from South Carolina's spirit because South Carolina had been on a roll. Those 3s gave other players confidence."
The Hoyas now take a 10-day break for fall exams and then return to action Dec.16 when they host Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference doormat Norfolk State at MCI. Four days later, the Hoyas have a crosstown tussle with Howard, another MEAC school, before heading to Charlottesville to take on No.22 Virginia after Christmas.
The Gamecocks (4-1) were without starting 6-foot-10 senior center Tony Kitchings. Kitchings, who hurt the Hoyas last year when he came off the bench and recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes, broke his hand in two places during last Friday's 82-65 win over South Carolina State. Until his injury, Kitchings averaged 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Gamecocks.
The frontcourt wasn't South Carolina's problem, point guard was. In what can only be described as a tactical blunder, coach Dave Odom used leading scorer Chuck Eidson as his point guard. Eidson, a 6-foot-7 multi-purpose player, entered the game averaging 18 points.
Odom used the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week to bring the ball up against Georgetown's pressure, expending all his energy. The experiment was a disaster as Eidson turned the ball over six times and scored two points in the first half.
Luckily for Odom, his team trailed by only 31-29 at halftime with his best scorer hardly contributing.
Early in the first half, it looked like the Hoyas were going to blow the Gamecocks out. Odom's team was slapped with a technical foul for having six players on the floor with 15:14 left before halftime that helped fuel an 11-0 run for Georgetown and a 16-5 lead.
Bethel sank both technical free throws, and Georgetown rolled off another seven points before Gamecocks reserve forward Kerbrell Brown nailed a double-pump 14-footer from the left baseline that stopped Georgetown's run.
Sweetney dominated in the low post, leading all scorers in the first half with 14 points. With Georgetown's perimeter shooters ice cold for the third straight game, Sweetney was forced to carry his team. The Hoyas made one of seven 3-pointers in the first half.
In addition to rattling Eidson, the Hoyas played excellent defense and kept the Gamecocks offense out-of-sync all half. The Gamecocks never seemed comfortable setting up their halfcourt offense.
The points the Gamecocks scored in the first half resulted more from outstanding individual effort than from freeing players on set plays.
Brown came off South Carolina's bench and lit up the Hoyas for nine points all from the perimeter. Carlos Powell, a 6-7 sophomore forward, scored six of South Carolina's first nine points and kept the Gamecocks within reach of the Hoyas early in the first half.

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