- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2002

Don't mess with Big Mike.
Seton Hall reserve forward Mauricio Branwell stated yesterday in the Newark Star Ledger that he was going to shut down Georgetown's Mike Sweetney.
Suffice it to say, the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Sweetney and his mates showed up with a little something extra against the Pirates, absolutely humiliating Seton Hall 84-58 at MCI Center.
Branwell's predicted shutout dissolved when Sweetney scored on Georgetown's second possession, setting the tone for an exercise in futility on both ends of the floor for the Pirates. Sweetney needed just 22 minutes to accumulate 14 points and nine rebounds as he and the Hoyas (11-5, 2-2 Big East) waltzed into halftime with a nine-point lead and dispatched the Pirates (9-8, 2-3) shortly after intermission. Sweetney missed only one of his six shots before exiting for good with 13 minutes remaining and the Hoyas leading 56-37.
"I was aware of what he said, but I just came to play basketball," said Sweetney, refusing to rub verbal salt in Branwell's wounds. "I just put his remarks behind me and let my play speak for me."
Though the chatty Branwell did little to stop Sweetney or any other Georgetown player, he did have his name etched into the record book when he scored his first and only point on a free throw with 3:14 remaining and the winner long decided.
The crowd of 7,589 applauded the free throw in mock appreciation, deriding the former Dunbar (D.C.) High School grad for his pregame blather. Frustrated by the embarrassing defeat and the mocking cheers of the crowd, Branwell lost his cool two minutes later, starting a fight with Georgetown reserve forward Courtland Freeman. Punches were thrown, and both players were ejected. But Freeman, who appeared to be defending himself, actually left the court smiling.
"It was nothing really," said Freeman of the fisticuffs, which apparently won't result in suspensions. "It was just two guys going hard after a loose ball and getting tangled up. That's all."
Just as they did in a 70-43 decimation of then-No. 16 Boston College last weekend, the Hoyas totally dictated the flow of the game with their defensive pressure on Seton Hall's backcourt. The Pirates (9-8, 2-3) entered the game depending on their backcourt tandem of Andre Barrett and Darius Lane, who entered MCI Center averaging 31.3 points but combined for just 13 points on three of 12 shooting. Lane was held scoreless and managed only two shots after Georgetown guards Gerald Riley, Kevin Braswell and Tony Bethel spent the entire evening in his shorts.
Offensively, the Hoyas were equally impressive, shooting above 50 percent for the second straight game. Aside from Sweetney, Georgetown received strong offensive outings from Riley (16 points), Braswell (12 points, five assists), junior center Wesley Wilson (10 points) and reserve forward Harvey Thomas (12 points).
Riley basically iced the game by raining in 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the Hoyas up 54-37 with 14:20 remaining. And Braswell provided the defining moment of the game midway through the second half.
With backup guard Ty Shine fronting him, Braswell executed a series of Mercury-fast cuts and bobs with the ball, literally faking Shine out of his shoes. While the entire crowd reeled in the stands in hysteria, Shine hopped around the court attempting to work his sneaker back on his foot. Such was the nature of this complete humiliation.
"The last two games they have played extremely well," said Georgetown coach Craig Esherick, who has watched his Hoyas rebound from a four-game losing streak with two routs. "There were bits and pieces before this game and before the BC game that told me it was coming. But I told the guys the same thing I've been telling them all along: It's only Jan. 16, and we have to sustain this level of play and continue to improve. I know we can play even better than we played tonight."
The Hoyas will have to do just that to beat Big East West division foe Pittsburgh (15-3, 3-2) on Saturday. The Panthers, who snapped the Hoyas' 16-0 streak last season at MCI Center, are the only team standing between Georgetown and division-leading Syracuse (16-2, 5-0).
"That loss here last season hurt a lot, because we were rolling," said Braswell. "We still remember that, so I guarantee you we'll be ready to play when Pitt comes in here this weekend."

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