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February 8, 2012

LiveBlog: Pitt-USF

Filed under: Basketball,liveblog — Chas @ 1:57 pm

Well this is another road game. This time in the Bulls temp home. USF has been better this year, and actually better than decent in whatever facility they decide to use as home court this season. Heck, they’ve actually won their games against Rutgers and DePaul. The Bulls have size up front, so that should be interesting to say the least for Pitt.

While Zanna has been in something of a funk lately, only 9 points and 11 rebounds over the last two games. At  the same time Dante Taylor has stepped up a bit. He’s had a good couple of games, but it is hard not to be a little cynical about Taylor at this point. He looked like he was starting to respond during the non-con after Khem Birch went into the starting line-up, but then disappeared once more. So who is absolutely certain what he will do from game to game.

Tray Woodall has been reaping the attention this week. He got national player of the week honors to go with conference honors. The theme of this being Woodall’s team and the leader that I pointed out last week is now getting more play.

Post-Gazette beat writer Ray Fittipaldo notes that in his blog.

“I’ve been saying all year that he’s our captain and our leader, and he’s been showing it,” sophomore forward Lamar Patterson said. “Since he’s come back, we’ve been playing a whole lot better collectively. Just having him out there is good. Everyone’s spirits are up. We work hard and want to get these Ws.”

“We see how hard he worked to get back. It’s an inspiration to see that he’s fighting so hard to keep this season alive. We don’t want to let anyone down – our fans, ourselves and most importantly coach Dixon. We didn’t give up on the season. That’s why we’re on a nice little winning streak.”

Pitt lacked leadership during its eight-game losing streak. Seniors Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson are leaders by example, but the Panthers were without their vocal leader. He is back now, and the Panthers are following his lead.

That’s why Nas’ response to every loss was that the team was outworked or the other side wanted it more. It wasn’t necessarily true each time, but that is really the extent of what Nas believes when talking about the team. Putting in the work and effort. There’s also the fact that he couldn’t come out and say, that without Woodall there was no real point guard and players were constantly playing out of position.

Then there is this from Yahoo! on Woodall’s return.

“Everybody has gone back to their comfortable positions, doing what they normally did, what they’re comfortable doing and what they prepared for all offseason,” Woodall said. “Guys who aren’t used to creating don’t have to do it as much and guys who finish plays finish plays.”

The ability of Woodall to help stop dribble penetration has also bolstered Pittsburgh’s struggling defense, but this is still hardly a vintage Jamie Dixon team in that regard.

He isn’t a shutdown defender but Woodall is able to keep his man in front of him. Something the younger guards really struggled to do, or were unable to sustain. Read the whole piece as Woodall talks a bit about the injury and how limited he felt while trying to heal.

Pitt still has to work on closing out games. My working theory involves the minutes that Gibbs and Woodall have to play. They are still forced to play 37-39 minutes — and almost the entire second half of games. That has to take a toll especially in those final minutes when they have to hold the ball and then play defense against teams taking 3s or trying to drive even more. I’m sure Coach Dixon would love to get them spelled more during the game — and we’ve watched him try. It’s just that the drop-off is still too significant to keep them off the court for any length of time.

Anyways, back to tonight. The game is on at 7pm. It’s an ESPN Regional game so your major outlet choices are: Root, SNY, Brighthouse, ESPN FullCourt, ESPN3.com.

The usual rules are in place for this liveblog. Moderated chat. Not every comment will get pushed through. Especially when they say the exact same thing as a bunch of other comments. Dumb and abusive comments will be mocked, ignored and/or blocked depending on my whims and whether I can get a cheap laugh out of it. There is no formula to it. It comes down to judgment calls.

As always if you need to break the liveblog from the site, Click Here.

Otherwise, just a little lower.





game is on masn for dc area folks

Comment by scott 02.08.12 @ 2:07 pm

Glad to hear that since I’m in the Washington burbs, just wish MASN would do all their games in HD, regular definition is tough to watch on the 60″ screen.

If Pitt wins this game on the road, it will be hard to hold the “bubble” talk in check, up until they lose one again that is.

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.08.12 @ 2:22 pm

Lumpy Jacobsen granted another year of eligibility

Comment by wbb 02.08.12 @ 2:25 pm

according to Brandin Knight a couple of weeks ago on The Fan, Dante Taylor has had knee and back ailments as well as periodic migraines … this has hampered his progress

Comment by wbb 02.08.12 @ 2:33 pm

kind of interesting …. link to hosted.ap.org

Comment by wbb 02.08.12 @ 3:11 pm

Pitt favored by 1 in Vegas. No way we lose this game. I like Pitt 65 – SF 47. SF has had trouble scoring. Pitt plays well against bigger front lines. Where we struggle is against good guard play. Besides my Chivas supply is depleted…so let’s have a fun evening, build up a big lead and cruise…..Go Get em Tray and Co.!! HIP

Comment by Dan 72 02.08.12 @ 3:14 pm

Getting Jacobson back was terrific news for the football team. I’m glad for him, it had to tough sitting out, for what appeared to be his last year. Given the issues with the offensive line this could be a big break. Hopefully getting Sacco back will help as well.

Well back to basketball. Let’s hope Travon and Company continue to play well and bring back a W.
Go Panthers!

Comment by Justinian 02.08.12 @ 5:01 pm

Postgazette is reporting that the Big East and WVU will settle their respective lawsuit…the settlement includes an $11 million buyout and WVU will be allowed to leave the conference this year.

Once again the Pitt adminstration sat back and did nothing all the while WVU fought for and now seemingly will receive their release from the Big Least conference. Is anyone else growing tired of our administration’s incompetence?

link to postgazette.com

Comment by Marco 02.08.12 @ 5:29 pm

Not much we can do. WVU had a legit argument

Comment by Tony C 02.08.12 @ 5:33 pm

In DC the game is on MASN HD also.

Comment by Velvil 02.08.12 @ 5:44 pm

Our administration did not sit back. If they sat back we’d still be in the BE while UCONN went to the ACC in our place. Pitt has been proactive and smart. WVU is fighting the fight visibly, but who knows what Pitt is doing behind the scenes.

Comment by The Incline 02.08.12 @ 5:51 pm

WVU’s buyout is reportedly $20M. ..And B12 may help?

Comment by Yup 02.08.12 @ 5:52 pm

According to the PG and breaking news over Twitter, the buyout is only $11 million…

Comment by The Incline 02.08.12 @ 6:03 pm

Pitt didn’t have an argument to get out of the BE early, as Chas noted in posts back when this all first came about. WVU, on the other hand did. Pitt and Cuse could only sit back and see what happens with WVU and then act. Just because our administration has made some mistakes doesn’t mean they are lazy and don’t do ANYTHING.

Comment by kanyon40 02.08.12 @ 6:13 pm

It isn’t worth paying $11M to get out of one more season in the BE.

Imagine telling your faculty that, even though there was another 30% reduction in money from the state of PA this year, PITT is going to spend double digit millions for….well, nothing really.

Comment by Reed 02.08.12 @ 6:17 pm

I’m ok with either scenario, going in 2012 or 2013. I don’t think it makes much of a difference in the scheme of things. It may make a difference to the administrations at Pitt and Syracuse, but then any additional ACC money would have be counter balanced by the 11 million or so that they would have pay to leave a year early.

Comment by Justinian 02.08.12 @ 6:24 pm

Regarding the rumored buyouts.

Big East sources are leaking the WVU number at $20 million give or take, along with some extra conditions like getting one of the new teams to join early.
link to brett-mcmurphy.blogs.cbssports.com

WVU sources are leaking the number at $11 million and that’s it.
link to post-gazette.com

I have trouble believing the WVU number for a few reasons.

1. Colorado, Nebraska, Mizzou and Texas A&M have basically given up around $20 mill to bail immediately for the bigger money. Hard to believe the Big East would take almost half that.
2. The $11 million is too low since 7 other football teams need to buy a game to fill in for WVU. That would have to come from the settlement number. Meaning the Big East and basketball schools get much less.
3. At $11 million, you can bet that Pitt and Cuse would be whipping out the checkbook 10 minutes later. They would would come close to recouping that money quickly with the ACC TV deal cut in the first year.

On the flip side, both sides might be right the $11 million might still be true insofar as what WVU will pay to the Big East directly. Then it would pay around $1 mill or so to each football school for the lost game. And then include the $2.5 million they have already paid the Big East. That puts the number at $20.5 million.

Worst case scenario. This is the Big East and John Marinatto negotiating so it is way too plausible that they screwed up badly.

Comment by Chas 02.08.12 @ 6:28 pm

Yea but Marinatto (sp-whatever) said he plans to hold Pitt & Cuse the full 27 months, which would be until Jan 2014. That’s 2 more full seasons in the BigEast (2012 & 2013). I say sue and do.

Comment by Emel 02.08.12 @ 6:29 pm

Emel,

Of course Marinatto said that. He has to. That is his only real leverage in the negotiations. Even Marinatto isn’t that stupid

Comment by Chas 02.08.12 @ 6:42 pm

Emel, If West “by god” Virginia goes to the Big 12 for the 2012 football season, then I can’t see any way that Pitt and Syracuse stay for the 2013 season. I would be very surprised if went to ACC any time before 2013.

Comment by Justinian 02.08.12 @ 6:44 pm

$20 million to the Big Least as a reward for their incompetence. Only in America

Comment by Gas 02.08.12 @ 7:58 pm

Our home schedule ought to be a thing of beauty this year. Va Tech and???

Youngstown State, a couple of crap conference games, and two holes to fill with, I’m guessing, Frostburg and Gannon???

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 8:07 pm

The Duke-UNC game is gonna be a lot less fun if we blow this. Come on guys, a lot at stake!!!!

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 8:09 pm

I think we’re stoned, I really do. The stupidest skip passes right out of bounds??

Trying to dribble through two or three guys???

Very disappointing.

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 8:34 pm

Worst game of the year by far. Not even close. Healthy Woodall, everything on the line. Classic Pitt choke job

Comment by Tony C 02.08.12 @ 8:48 pm

I thought this was a live blog about the game tonight.

Not taking care of the ball at all tonight. Forcing things on offense leading to USF breakouts. No guard but Woodall can ever keep an opposing guard in front of him.

In the first half Nas and Gibbs turning the ball over. Second half Patterson and Gibbs turning it over. Woodall also sloppy. Really poor decision making in this game. Also really poor transition defense.

This game really resembles the games of the losing streak.

Comment by Barvo 02.08.12 @ 8:51 pm

Jamie’s substitutions tonight have just baffled me.

Also, any time J.J. Moore shoots a three from here on out this year, he really needs to be sat down so that he gets the message: STOP SHOOTING THREES.

Comment by Aaron 02.08.12 @ 9:02 pm

Not much you can say after playing this bad against a very mediocre, but good defensive team.
UConn and GT got up on them early and it’s lights out for SF if a team does that. The only thing they know how to do is hack and bully all over the floor.

Higgins usually calls a closer game but we were just outplayed in every area tonight.

Patterson made a lot of mistakes, some stupid, but they were all with a purpose. Gibbs, on the other hand, looks like a selfish, overpampered player who cannot play defense or take care of the ball in traffic. If he thinks this is the last time he will be double teamed, he is mistaken. Frankly, I am all for Jamie just benching him. He sure does not look like he wants to operate within the confines of Jamie’s offensive system. What a disappointment.

Comment by Dan 72 02.08.12 @ 9:13 pm

USF lost to State Pen AND Auburn. Pitt sucks ass

Comment by Tony C 02.08.12 @ 9:16 pm

Yes, USF defense is good. Tons of unforced errors that nothing to do with their defense.

Best quote of the game, the announcer at the end,

“That 4 game win streak seems like years ago”.

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 9:18 pm

this game made me want to punch something…very frustrating to watch..and very disappointing..no room for error now…lets see if we can respond….again

Comment by pitt-for-life 02.08.12 @ 9:19 pm

That was quite bad. I still believe though that they will get to the tourney.

Comment by Pitt Rob 02.08.12 @ 9:22 pm

@Dan72, hey Dan!! Hey, I just saw your last couple of words in sentence #1.

I posted on my own without seeing yours. Mine might look like a rebuttal to yours “Yes, USF defense is good, but. Not at all. At least some might take it that way.

Your post is spot on.

Goodnight all, not much else to say on this one.!!

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 9:22 pm

Chas, close…The Big 12 will pay $9M and WVU the balance of $11M to make up the $20M settlement.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.08.12 @ 9:22 pm

We just didn’t match up well with them. South Florida was too big inside and they shutdown Pitt’s outside shooting. USF played terrific defence, Pitt turned the ball over way too much, and the Panthers didn’t shoot well. What can anyone say. Pitt has played well in the last 4 games. Now they have to regroup and get ready to come out and play a better game against Seton Hall on Sunday.

Comment by Justinian 02.08.12 @ 9:29 pm

Panthers have to win at least 19 games to get into the tourney, if not it’s nit which might be a good thing for this team. Really disappointed with Taylor tonight, seemed to revert back to ‘sleepy’ instead of playing with intensity like he had over the past 2 weeks.

Comment by John 02.08.12 @ 9:34 pm

Yup, USF defense was strong and created a lot of transition opportunities. We usually call that “Pitt basketball.” Tough to win on the road and it seems like we never play well in Tampa. Hey, just another leg on the journey.

Comment by velvil 02.08.12 @ 10:14 pm

Just for a laugh, I decided to look at the box score on ESPN. Can’t seem to paste a screen grab here but it shows the final as Pitt 61, USF 53. Then in the by half score it shows USF 64, Pitt 53. The line score is USF 51, Pitt 41. About as confused as the game itself.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.08.12 @ 10:19 pm

I was at the Pitt USF game down here last year and Pitt spanked them bad.

This isn’t the best Pitt team we’ve seen by far, and this was a bad match-up on the road for a team that has a glaring weakness inside.

Silver lining: It looks like WVU is getting out of the Big East for next year which gives Pitt and ‘cuse A LOT of leverage!!

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 02.08.12 @ 10:22 pm

What a disappointing effort by us.
32% FG shooting can not beat 60% FG.

I thought this team had turned into something else with the return of Woody, I guess I was wrong.

After avg’g 79ppg over the last 4 games we score 51 points. We needed an uptempo game since they were bigger than us inside, we had the better guards. Coach did nothing to get us into an uptempo game. This is why I have doubts about his in-game coaching. (let the dixonites reign on me)
haha

We just slept walked thru this game. There was nothing I could gather, with trying to change the tempo, the flow of this game. The fact that this game wasn’t even close in the last 5 minutes was very disconcerning. Come on this was USF, with 4,000 people in a 15,000 seat arena, no tradition, no nothing. Vegas has us favored !

No way we should lose to this team who was just blown out by Georgetown by 30 points. Home foam, shouldn’t happen.

Comment by Emel 02.08.12 @ 11:52 pm

What’s even more disappointing, Woody gave this team a 2nd chance. The seniors should have taken this 2nd chance and made sure you don’t lose to a USF.
Sleepy was AWOL as well, despite all his talk to the media reporters. If you’re going to talk and pretend your a leader, you got to back it up, if not.. shut up. Guys that average 6 ppg need not be heard.

You better step up your game or Seton Hall is going to ream your asses. Not worthy of wearing the PITT uniform. Stand up, get up on your heels, be men and play like PITT.

YOUR DESTINY IS CALLING AND YOUR EPITAPH IS ABOUT TO BE WRITTEN.

Comment by Emel 02.09.12 @ 12:53 am

Even if this team by some chance makes it to the dance does anyone think that it can win a game? Get ready for next year now.

Comment by JP 02.09.12 @ 6:49 am

We all new it would be an up hill fight for this Pitt basketball team to make the NCAA tournament. These guys have been playing organized basketball since they were nine years old. If anyone knows what a poor effort last night’s game was, it should be this Pitt team.

Let’s give South Florida some credit for challenging Pitt. Pitt just did not have their games faces on last night.

34% field goal shooting and 64% free throw shooting won’t win many games. Let’s hope Jamie has some good practices before the Seton Hall game or Pitt will end up another loser and then we can forget about it for the 2011 season. HTP!

Comment by MariettaMike 02.09.12 @ 7:09 am

That was ugly last night. That first half set college basketball back ten years. USF stunk, too.

But it’s better to be big and athletic and bad than what Pitt is……small and weak and unathletic and bad.

After that reverse dunk from that USF kid in the first half, it dawned on me that the only player Pitt has who could potentially dunk in the halfcourt offense was Moore. That’s simply amazing for a Big East team. There aren’t enough athletes on this squad. How do you recruit kids that don’t even threaten the rim? I’m getting ancient in hoop years, but I still play in pickup games where guys drop step and dunk in the halfcourt. Sure, it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but it’s not out of the question. With this Pitt squad, it’s out of the question. They are a small, unathletic bunch and they were completely physically overmatched last night.

And as good as Woodall has been, he was just that bad last night. Stupid turnovers, forced shots and that lack of a left hand is glaring.

We know Taylor and Zanna can’t finish inside. No news there. But last night the physical mismatch was just as obvious on the perimeter. Gibbs was overpowered, Woodall couldn’t stay in front of his man or USF posted him up and Patterson wasn’t strong enough to get in the lane and create for others.

It was like men against boys.

Comment by hugh green 02.09.12 @ 8:05 am

What’s really embarrassing is that the senior “leaders,” Gibbs and Nas, had, what, 10-12 points combined? Tray’s shots weren’t falling and there was nobody to pick up the slack. Patterson still showed little aggression, Sleepy misses layups, Zanna showed up for that one 4-point play and otherwise got shoved around like a rag doll.

The one up-side I saw was that Moore, despite forcing up some bad jumpers, finally got some extended playing time and had some good drives to the hoop.

The most infuriating thing to me is watching Nas get the ball on the perimeter and his defender just backing off, knowing that he is no threat whatsoever from 3 feet away from the hoop. Love Nas ’cause he brings the effort, but Dixon can no longer afford to recruit effort guys. Skill has to be more highly valued.

Bad loss. Very discouraging.

Comment by Carmen 02.09.12 @ 8:12 am

“…With 2:42 left and the Panthers trailing by eight, Dixon pulled Gibbs from the game immediately after Gibbs yelled a profanity at the Pitt bench. The profanity came just before Lamar Patterson made a 3-pointer to make it 53-45.”

link to post-gazette.com

WTF? What did Gibbs, who did he say it to, and why?

Comment by velvil 02.09.12 @ 8:13 am

Gibbs line says it all,33 minutes 2-9 shooting,”O” free throws,and 5 turnovers for the Big East pre season poy.

Comment by alcofan 02.09.12 @ 8:23 am

South Florida has a really good record at home this year regardless of the crowd. Pitt isn’t physical enough to win a game where the refs allow a lot of contact to happen. I’m not one to blame the refs, but Tim Higgins is horrible. He should be done reffing after last years BE Tourny disasiter. Some recent Pitt games Tim Higgins has reffed: South Florida and Ruters this year, in 2010 he reffed the horrible 50-45 ND game in the garden and a loss at South Florida.

That being said the players lost the game. Needed a much better effort from the Senior “leaders.” Ashton was being Ashton. That is why he was pulled. Like I’ve been trying to argue the team plays the worst when Gibbs and Nasir are on the court. Gibbs plus/minus last night -15, Nasir plus/minus last night -19. And if you want to say oh plus/minus is based on minutes and they played the most, Lamar played similar minutes and was only a -5 and Woodall was a plus 2.

Only positive from the game was J.J. Moore’s play (+3). I think he’s going to make a Sam Young like leap in his Junior year.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.09.12 @ 8:33 am

Agree that Moore at least showed some potential and energy last night. Hard to call it a bright spot, since he missed countless three pointers, but there was some energy to his play.

I’ve seen him can long threes in summer league, and I appreciate that he has the confidence to launch them in BE games (shooters need that confidence). I just hope he eventually starts to hit them.

But what they really need from his is the ability to get to the hoop and draw fouls, because no one else on this physically challenged roster can do that…..

Comment by hugh green 02.09.12 @ 8:53 am

The worst thing about that coast to coast, reverse dunk was the way Pitt’s “D” parted like the Red Sea to allow it. Nobody willing to step in, stop the ball, maybe draw a charge. Or at least make him “earn” it. Just a few guys half-heartedly swiping at him on the way by. That about sums up the year, especially defensively. Five years ago, the guy would’ve been on the floor one way or another (charging foul or hard block, etc.).

Comment by JW 02.09.12 @ 9:09 am

During “The Streak” ™, Woodall said something like “a happy offense makes for a good defense…” Meaning, if the Panthers are successful on the offensive end, they’re much more willing to step it up defensively.

Last night, the Panthers struggled with both outside and inside shots, and gave a half-hearted defensive effort.

Comment by Lou 02.09.12 @ 9:22 am

I was at the game last night. I can’t believe I spent money to watch that effort, or lack thereof. It’s one thing to not be talented, which we aren’t very talented or athletic, but it is another thing to show no passion, desire or intensity.

Players miss shots, I understand that. But the lazy and sloppy play (esp. given our tourney chances were slim to begin with) was so puzzling.

Maybe the effort is better than I give them credit for but their bball IQ is just low. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

I also agree with the posters above regarding the lack of athleticism. We’ve been on top of the BE for a decade and it amazes me we would have a team as slow and undersized as we do. USF was bigger, faster and stronger. Never thought I would type that.

With that said, H2P and I’ll be cheering the same as always next game. Things will be better much sooner rather than later.

Comment by JAM 05 Pitt 02.09.12 @ 11:14 am

Having Gibbs, Patterson, and Robinson on the floor together is a disaster against an athletic team like USF. USF isn’t good, but they are athletic. Gibbs can’t get a shot off against players with length. Patterson can’t defend athletic players. And Robinson is feast or famine. Yesterday was famine.

Woodall and Zanna are athletic, but when you have them surrounded by the aforementioned three, it doesn’t matter. Dixon was crazy to start all three of these guys.

I CANNOT wait until Gibbs graduates. I’ve hated his game for 4 years. Please just leave. Honestly, removing him from the team is addition by subtraction. He sucks.

Comment by omar 02.09.12 @ 12:59 pm

There are certain coaches that know how to beat us or give us fits. Stan Heath of USF is one of those coaches. Hate to bring back this nightmare, but Heath was coach at Kent State in 2002, who beat us in OT in the Sweet 16. That Kent State team was good, but it wasn’t better than PITT. They had one guy who was a matchup problem and that was Antonio Gates.

We needed a better game plan last night, as PITT looked totally unprepared. We knew they had length and athleticism on the wings and were bigger and more physical than us underneath.
So one thing we couldn’t do was get into a half court game with them. Which is exactly what we did. The only way you can beat a team that’s bigger and more athletic than you is to beat them up the floor and get into an uptempo game. Plus Pitt’s halfcourt offense is pretty bad. Seems like a no brainer here.

Comment by Emel 02.09.12 @ 3:47 pm

That Kent State team never gets any respect. I think they had about the same record as Pitt that year and my guess is that Huffman kid played more professional ball than anyone on that Pitt squad ever did. And, from what I remember, their other guard was money, too. That was a tough loss to take, but it was a pretty even match up.

So when was the last time you saw Pitt try to play up tempo? Do you really think that’s a possibility? What about the last ten years would lead you to believe that Dixon would change style?

By the way, I’m not advocating that Dixon change approach. I don’t think he has the horses to run.

Comment by george.bentel 02.09.12 @ 5:08 pm

and I agree with you, Omar, on Gibbs. It’s so painful to watch.

But I’d debate a bit on the characterization of Woodall and Zanna as athletic. Zanna gets up and down the floor well, but he’s far from athletic. An athletic guy his size would block an occasional shot and dunk over somebody once in a while. Not thinking either of those things is happening anytime soon……

And Woodall is passably quick, but that’s only part of being an athletic guard. I think of an athletic PG as someone who’s fast enough to be disruptive on defense and fast/strong enough to get in the lane repeatedly to finish or set up others.

Comment by george.bentel 02.09.12 @ 5:21 pm

We fell off in comparison to athletic skills of rated programs, but we are better than our record. I’m willing to throw out SF game as an aberration, especially because I think we’ll beat them at the Pete. The SH game is a must win or we lose the argument that those early losses to teams like Rutgers were also an aberration. We need a solid road performance and the Hall is coming off an emotional high, beating Rutgers. Pope scares me in this game for what he can do and Gibbs and Nas for what they can’t.

Comment by Old School Panther 02.11.12 @ 10:57 am

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