Pearl felt ‘helpless’ watching Vols lose to Arkansas

Arkansas forward Michael Sanchez (31) and Tennessee forward John Fields (25) battle for control of a loose ball as Arkansas forward Delvon Johnson (21) looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, in Fayetteville, Ark.

Photo by Beth Hall, Associated Press

Arkansas forward Michael Sanchez (31) and Tennessee forward John Fields (25) battle for control of a loose ball as Arkansas forward Delvon Johnson (21) looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, in Fayetteville, Ark.

UT coach Bruce Pearl's take on Arkansas game

Helpless.

That’s how Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl said he felt while watching the Vols’ 68-65 loss at Arkansas from his Fayetteville hotel room Saturday afternoon.

Pearl, who served the first game of his SEC-mandated eight-game league suspension against the Razorbacks, put his team back to work at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday.

The loss to Arkansas still was fresh on the minds of everyone in orange, with UT dropping to 10-5 overall and 0-1 in SEC play.

“It was harder because you felt pretty helpless during the game,’’ Pearl said, asked what emotions he felt on Saturday. “I took notes the whole game.’’

Pearl watched the game on TV with UT associate athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois and his wife, Brandy.

Pearl said watching the Vols battle from 13 down only to see freshman Tobias Harris miss a potential game-tying 3-point shot at the buzzer was difficult.

“I’m sure I treated it somewhat like a supporter ... nothing I could do,’’ he said. “It (watching the game with him) is not something (Brandy) is looking forward to doing again.’’

But it will happen again, seven more times including UT’s 9 p.m. Tuesday game against Florida (12-3, 1-0) in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The players said they are anxious to atone for the Arkansas loss and don’t want to let down Pearl again.

“I could tell by the way coach was walking when I first saw him after the game he was disappointed,’’ Vols junior Cameron Tatum said. “We let him down. That (Arkansas) was a game we should have won and sent a message that we were going to back up our coach.’’

Pearl met the team at the Fayetteville airport but didn’t address them until the plane had landed in Knoxville on Saturday night.

UT senior Brian Williams said Pearl wasn’t the only one the Vols let down.

“We let Coach (Tony) Jones down after he put a lot of work into the scout and getting us prepared,’’ Williams said, referring to the Vols’ associate head coach who has assumed Pearl’s game-day duties during the suspension. “We don’t want to let our coaches down or our fans down.’’

Pearl said he was pleased with the job Jones and his assistants did against Arkansas.

“But some of the things ailing us prior to that game continued to rear their ugly head,’’ Pearl said. “I thought we had fixed some of that middle ball-screen stuff against Memphis. We went back to not hedging it properly.

“We were the aggressor against Memphis; I thought Arkansas was the aggressor there.’’

Harris, who led the team with 21 points and 11 rebounds in the loss at Arkansas, took blame for some of the Vols’ issues in ball-screen defense.

“I look at myself and I didn’t do a good job in ball screens, and I learned from it,’’ Harris said. “I’m not frustrated; I just looked at the video and I saw how I could be better.’’

Extra Time: Harris was back in the gym Sunday morning and Sunday night getting up extra shots, anxious to snap out of a 1-of-18 shooting slump beyond the 3-point line.

“Trust me, I know that stat,’’ Harris said. “I’m not shooting it that much, but I’ll just keep working hard and it will come.’’

Hot Shooters: UT point guard Melvin Goins has heated up beyond 3-point range of late with 8-of-12 shooting over the past five games. Scotty Hopson is 11-of-25 shooting the 3-pointer over the past four games.

The Fix: Pearl said the remedy for the high ball-screen woes is to make sure both defenders are engaged.

“You bring two offensive players to the ball, you have to bring two defensive players to the ball,’’ Pearl said.

Williams said because the guards didn’t hedge hard enough, the post players were coming over in help defense and Arkansas was throwing it over their heads for easy baskets.

“Any big at the Division I level would have made the shots they were getting,’’ he said.

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Comments » 54

TNVOLFN writes:

As Coach Dooley says "there is freedom of choice, but not freedom from consequence."

I still support Coach Pearl, but he put himself in this position.

acworthdave writes:

Bruce, Now you know the frustration we all feel watching this team perform on the court. Hopefully, this perspective will give you an opportunity to correct the mistakes that continue to occur. BTW...my wife feels just like Brandy.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to TNVOLFN:

As Coach Dooley says "there is freedom of choice, but not freedom from consequence."

I still support Coach Pearl, but he put himself in this position.

I agree wholeheartedly, TNVOLFN!

The players don't need to feel like they let Coach Pearl down--it is Coach Pearl who let the team, alumni and UT fans down.

I really wish sportcasters would stop talking about it all the time when the Vols are on TV; however, Pearl brought this on himself by his own choices and, as a result, he put himself in a position where he's at the mercy of the media (which is not a good place to be, I might add!).

DebKY writes:

I hope you got tired of hearing about your "situation" with the NCAA! I know I am! Reduce your rotation, keep your best players on the floor, work on your inside game, and keep your son and McBee on the bench!

VOLinMAHWAH writes:

Actually, the time watching the team on TV might help him better analyze what they are doing in real time. He said he took notes the whole game. Problems should be even more transparent to him than they are to the fans. If the team can make the adjustments, it could prove to be an invaluable teaching tool for him!

I just wish the commentators would focus on the game and not on his suspension. All they seemed to be able to talk about, and I'm sure Pearl was sick of hearing it more than we were!

TennVol01 writes:

Pearl was helpless Saturday and will continue to be helpless until his "sentence" has been served. Despite how talented this team is, they are not playing up to their capabilities. There is always next year.... maybe.

AirForceVol2786 writes:

Still love ya Coach Pearl! it sucks now but im not as quick to let the memories of what you have done for us go. I know it will get turned around. Go Vols and Go CBP.

SunshineVol writes:

Give the freshmen and sophomores the majority of the minutes and let’s start over. We’re not going very far anyway with Goins, Hopson, and Williams.

chrisw2967 writes:

I hope while BP was taking notes , he wrote down Mcmiss and Pearl jr will not see anymore playing time.Oh and stop rotating players in and out.at the 16:32 mark ,the rotation started.So the starters played 3 min 28 seconds and were already on the bench. No wonder the starters cant get nothing going.

tnvol4ever writes:

No biggie--Vols wil be 6-2 in SEC at half-way point of SEC schedule.

CCLC writes:

am again participating in the SEC Hoops Power Poll. A couple of thoughts before my ballot. I tried not to put too much into the games yesterday. Yes, the head to head matchups matter, but for ranking purposes, I look at the team's overall season and how I think they have done to this point in the season. I do look at RPI, quality wins and road vs home wins. Basically, I try to sort order the teams the same way the NCAA tournament selection committee would.

1. Florida - RPI of 14 and SOS of 6. Plus, they had a pretty win against a good Ole Miss team. When will they have another head scratching loss?
2. Georgia - Great win over a good team. Carrying the longest win streak in the conference at 9.
3. Kentucky - A bit of over confidence against the Dawgs? A very coachable moment for Calipari. I'd hate to be Auburn right now.
4. South Carolina - Played their best game since the loss at Michigan State. Rewarded with a trip to Alabama.
5. Vandy - Yeah, they lost, but this is a better team than that. Kevin Stallings probably made his guys run home after fading the way they did in OT.
6. Mississippi - Tough loss to a good team. The cupcake pre-conference schedule didn't do them any favors, though.
7. Arkansas - Beat Tennessee at home. Unluckily for them, they don't get to play their road games at Reynolds.
8. Tennessee - One down and how many phone calls to go?
9. Alabama - Hey, we won!
10. LSU - Hey, when do we get Auburn again?
11. Mississippi State - Quite physical in the stands. Not so much on the floor.
12. Auburn - Hates to be Auburn right now.

GreeneVol_TN writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He's not our coach because he took Tennessee to one elite 8. He's our coach because he came in here and embraced the job, the school, and the community with his enthusiasm and his works. I realize misleading the NCAA was not the right thing, but I have a lot less trouble forgiving 3 kids at a BBQ than a certain coach to the north that has people taking entrance tests for their players, and football programs that are paying their players.
I think Hamilton directed his punishment in the right place with the salary cuts and recruiting restrictions. Although I don't support Slive's suspensions I feel again they were directed where they should have been. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, let the punishment fit the crime!

Looking forward to better days in the future with our coach!

Go Vols!

DebKY writes:

in response to chrisw2967:

I hope while BP was taking notes , he wrote down Mcmiss and Pearl jr will not see anymore playing time.Oh and stop rotating players in and out.at the 16:32 mark ,the rotation started.So the starters played 3 min 28 seconds and were already on the bench. No wonder the starters cant get nothing going.

You are right on target! Pearl has done this ever since he has been coach at UT. I know Lofton was recovering from chemo treatments, but Pearl benched him excessive minutes his senior year. He had a shot at breaking the three point record, but instead came in third place.
I just wish Pearl would listen to what everyone is saying about the rotation!

fishingplug writes:

Too many subs early! The left hand doesn't know what the right is doing. Is Tony Jones trying to win games or please Bruce Pearl? Sometimes, we play like it's a final four game, other times, we play like we're out of gas. If you have players not giving 100% from the tip-off, let em whatch the rest of the game from the bench. You might lose that game, but the next game should be different. Too much is about Bruce Pearl. Best thing he could do is step aside until the NCAA makes their ruling. If he survives, then he can start over. After Steven gratuates, we'll see a different Bruce, if he is still at Tennessee. You see, in order for Bruce to give Steven the playing time he wants to, he can't just send him in, he must send others in with him so it won't look so bad. This "over-kill" subbing is screwing up the flow of the offence as well as the defence. Next year, look for about eight, not twelve to come off the bench. Let's see what is brought to the next game. Go Vols!!!

richvol writes:

I am sick of seeing what this team is capable of and then seeing them underachieve. Brian Williams says they don't want to let the fans and Pearl down then don't play like you've never seen a basketball before...you and Tatum were pathetic. Williams has some ability...I've seen it,but anyone that's 6'10" and 275lbs that plays like he did against Arkansas is definitely a "big baby". Timid is not the word for it. Tatum was worse. I don't know why Hopson is listed as a guard because guards are supposed to be ball-handlers.

govolsrpa writes:

I would love to see the rotation at 9.Out of the four off the bench that deserve mins is Bone Fields,Golden, and only use Maymon for short mins to rest Harris. My two and three spots I just rotate Hopson Tatum and Bone. If we shoot well at home this week we will win both of them. Galatians 2:20

bluetick writes:

"Helpless.

That’s how Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl said he felt while watching the Vols’ 68-65 loss at Arkansas from his Fayetteville hotel room Saturday afternoon."

He should have thought about that before he did what he did to put himself in this mess. I don't want to hear him whining about things now. Bite the bullet. You aren't the only one suffering here CBP. This isn't just about you anymore.

Ironcity writes:

in response to TennVol01:

Pearl was helpless Saturday and will continue to be helpless until his "sentence" has been served. Despite how talented this team is, they are not playing up to their capabilities. There is always next year.... maybe.

If you don't have a point guard to run the offense it doesn't matter how talented the rest of the guys are. We have a shot first point guard that NEVER gets his guys an easy look. The kid plays hard and he shots the jumper pretty good but he just isn't good.

Golden has a PG mentality but he is a work in progress on his dribbling and his defense is suspect (though he can't do worse then Goins has done with the high ball screen). I don't see all the talent you see. I see a lot of wings and PF but a lousy point guard, centers that can't defend or shoot from beyond a foot (and sometimes thats a chore), and a two guard that constantly gets left in the dust on drives to the rim.

eduardo writes:

If they should have won...why didnt they??? This bunch is shy of someone to take over on the court. A stand up guy who takes the team on his shoulders and refuses to lose!!!

collegegrad writes:

Lucky for Bruce Pearl, UT has not decided to fire him, yet. If they do decide to remove him as head coach, then he'll know what helplessness feels like, because no other university would hire him. So, his career would be over, but he could start a new one. Let's see, he could get a job as a grill cook for McDonald's, busser, dishwasher, or grill cook for shoney's, usher at Regals Cinemas, door greeter, stock person, or sales clerk for Wal-Mart, bagger, stock person, or grocery clerk for Food City, luggage expeditor (bellhop) for Holiday Inn, assembly line associate for a factory, stockperson for a warehouse, sanitation specialist (garbage man) for a landfill/dump, custodial engineer (janitor) for a hospital, school,business, or government building, picking up garbage along the highway, or selling used cars. I'm sorry, but Pearl brought it upon himself, and if this had been anyone else caught lying at their job, they would've been fired, or if they had lied before a grand jury or at a hearing, it is called perjury, and that person would be sitting behind a jail cell.

farragutfanatic writes:

this is no doubt a frustrating year-but i still throw my full support behind pearl. yes, he broke the rules, but like someone mentioned he came here, embraced the school and community and we need to rally behind him. hopefully he has learned from his mistakes and will lead UT to the big dance for years to come. on the bright side, we atleast show up for all the huge games...

rbut5252#220065 writes:

....just maybe CBP will come out of this experience a better man, if not a better coach.

volnasty writes:

in response to DebKY:

You are right on target! Pearl has done this ever since he has been coach at UT. I know Lofton was recovering from chemo treatments, but Pearl benched him excessive minutes his senior year. He had a shot at breaking the three point record, but instead came in third place.
I just wish Pearl would listen to what everyone is saying about the rotation!

wow u need a valuim dude. did u see us play before cbp arrived we sucked with a capital S.and mcbee and pearl dont suck any worse than tatum and williams

jbocap writes:

ATTN VOLS FANS: We're gonna keep hearing the TV announcers talk about the suspension all season long...its news, its what they do. If you dont like it, mute the tv, and listen to game on the radio.

As for CBP...he's our coach. I feel like UT's punishment fit the rediculous "crime"...but Slive's punishment went overboard. You know the NCAA will do something...probably probation. If they are more harsh, then they are not focused on the current (and future) student-athletes, whose hands are clean in this.

I'm beginning to wonder now if Bruce Pearl would have kept to his story and not revised it, would we be in this predicament? I also wonder who many other schools make calls & have home bbq parties (or similar) under the NCAA radar and it not get mentioned.
Just sayin....

KevDVol writes:

He cheated and lied. We all agree. Now can some of you Pearl bashers please find something else to do?

He is our most successful coach EVER and there is nothing anyone can do or say to change that. His "cheating" was nothing compared to the lying. If they only find a few extra calls and BBQ, I say we shake the dirt off and keep rolling with Pearl. As I have said before, if he has to sit for a year, lets keep him on the shelf. We've paid plenty of lesser coaches to do nothing. Plus (an added benefit) it will drive all the haters insane.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

..says the fan of Cheater U.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to acworthdave:

Bruce, Now you know the frustration we all feel watching this team perform on the court. Hopefully, this perspective will give you an opportunity to correct the mistakes that continue to occur. BTW...my wife feels just like Brandy.

Could be a double meaning in your last sentence, you know(;-P)! I agree with the rest of your post.

volnasty writes:

hey what about uconn osu and countless others who have cheated by ncaa rules.its nothing new anywhere ,but i do wish he would recruit better character guys and coach them up if he is such a good coach.we dont push it like when he first got to ut we would run your guts out.now we look really lazy[tatum][williams][hopson]we need hungry players we have one in tobias but he is a freshmen.but cheater u really.GO VOLS

carbonzip writes:

Find your best five players who can play their best without having to be especially motivated.

Keep them on the court together as long as possible.

Get more movement into the offensive setup and advance the ball toward the basket as soon as possible.

Add the mid-range jumper to the mix and stop playing for a three or a lay-up all the time.

Hands up on defense.

murrayvol writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

At least he finally got around to telling the truth Cat.

Calipari never will.

vols1990 writes:

in response to GreeneVol_TN:

He's not our coach because he took Tennessee to one elite 8. He's our coach because he came in here and embraced the job, the school, and the community with his enthusiasm and his works. I realize misleading the NCAA was not the right thing, but I have a lot less trouble forgiving 3 kids at a BBQ than a certain coach to the north that has people taking entrance tests for their players, and football programs that are paying their players.
I think Hamilton directed his punishment in the right place with the salary cuts and recruiting restrictions. Although I don't support Slive's suspensions I feel again they were directed where they should have been. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, let the punishment fit the crime!

Looking forward to better days in the future with our coach!

Go Vols!

couldn't agree with you more. if cameron newton and john calipari are innocent, so is bruce pearl. in the words of the ncaa, "no harm, no foul".

TrouserCough writes:

Nice effort. Arkansas is terrible! Worst team in the Sun Belt and they beat us.

TrouserCough writes:

We all did. I felt helpless watching the Charlotte, Charleston and USC games. Wonder if Pearl felt helpless in those?

VolunteerLifer writes:

Memo to Bruce:

This team needs an on the floor leader. A go-to guy. A straw that stirs the drink guy. A holler guy. A bell cow. You need to identify the one most likely to do that and encourage him to step forward and take over and lead the team on the floor. (Hint, his initials are TH, not SH) Otherwise, this team will continue to drift listlessly around - motivated for some games and not for others, and they will underachieve come the end of the season.

Ironcity writes:

in response to GreeneVol_TN:

He's not our coach because he took Tennessee to one elite 8. He's our coach because he came in here and embraced the job, the school, and the community with his enthusiasm and his works. I realize misleading the NCAA was not the right thing, but I have a lot less trouble forgiving 3 kids at a BBQ than a certain coach to the north that has people taking entrance tests for their players, and football programs that are paying their players.
I think Hamilton directed his punishment in the right place with the salary cuts and recruiting restrictions. Although I don't support Slive's suspensions I feel again they were directed where they should have been. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, let the punishment fit the crime!

Looking forward to better days in the future with our coach!

Go Vols!

Well said!!

Ironcity writes:

I understand they are working on a zone. Really its about time we can't cover man to man right now. With the length this team has we should be zoning teams. As for tempo we slow the game down more then our opponents. This is a direct result of not having a good passing starting point guard.

ps11824 writes:

All you guys who can't seem to find forgiveness in your heart, ask yourself, "have I ever done anything that I needed forgiveness for?" That's when you bury it, and don't leave a handle sticking up. Get over it. Coach Pearl is serving his time. He is remorseful. Just shut up.

rclarkvols#224537 writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A Kentucky fan should never mention the word cheat ever! You don't want to open that envelope.

doh writes:

The sad thing about this is that UT didnt play a whole lot different than they did when they lost to the bad teams they lost to. This team just doesnt have that sense of urgency yet. Hope it comes soon.

Colliervol writes:

With all due respect, I don't believe the players let Bruce down. It is the other way around and Bruce has only one person to blame for feeling "helpless". If he hadn't gotten stupid over admitting to a simple BBQ, he and the team wouldn't be dealing with this situation. Great coach but a terrible error in judgement. One that I am afraid the NCAA is going to make an example of.

Katphan29 writes:

in response to CCLC:

am again participating in the SEC Hoops Power Poll. A couple of thoughts before my ballot. I tried not to put too much into the games yesterday. Yes, the head to head matchups matter, but for ranking purposes, I look at the team's overall season and how I think they have done to this point in the season. I do look at RPI, quality wins and road vs home wins. Basically, I try to sort order the teams the same way the NCAA tournament selection committee would.

1. Florida - RPI of 14 and SOS of 6. Plus, they had a pretty win against a good Ole Miss team. When will they have another head scratching loss?
2. Georgia - Great win over a good team. Carrying the longest win streak in the conference at 9.
3. Kentucky - A bit of over confidence against the Dawgs? A very coachable moment for Calipari. I'd hate to be Auburn right now.
4. South Carolina - Played their best game since the loss at Michigan State. Rewarded with a trip to Alabama.
5. Vandy - Yeah, they lost, but this is a better team than that. Kevin Stallings probably made his guys run home after fading the way they did in OT.
6. Mississippi - Tough loss to a good team. The cupcake pre-conference schedule didn't do them any favors, though.
7. Arkansas - Beat Tennessee at home. Unluckily for them, they don't get to play their road games at Reynolds.
8. Tennessee - One down and how many phone calls to go?
9. Alabama - Hey, we won!
10. LSU - Hey, when do we get Auburn again?
11. Mississippi State - Quite physical in the stands. Not so much on the floor.
12. Auburn - Hates to be Auburn right now.

CCLC, I think that's some pretty good analysis. Just some thoughts from a UK fan, so clearly I have UK biases that impact my thought.

I think come NCAA tourney time, UK will possibly be the best team in the league. These kids are phenomonally talented, a #1 recruiting class, and have quality wins against Washington, Lousiville, Notre Dame, and came within 2 points at Chapel Hill.

But they have alot of learning to do. Very young. I don't think they were over confident at GA. Rather, as Cal said, most had never been in that situation in their lives. Meaning, a good SEC team on the road. They'll get used to winning on the road....after some losses.

I have more confidence in UT than most on this board, and frankly, I think by the end of the year - yes, after losses without Pearl - these guys will be the team you saw beat Pitt and Villanova. Pearl is just too good of a coach. When he returns, I think he'll get this team in shape.

The only thing that could change that is if the NCAA messes with his mind. We probably saw some of that already this year. But don't count UT out.

Katphan29 writes:

Oh, and UK has an RPI of 8, and SOS of 12 after the GA loss, so not bad.

VolsFanForLife writes:

in response to DebKY:

I hope you got tired of hearing about your "situation" with the NCAA! I know I am! Reduce your rotation, keep your best players on the floor, work on your inside game, and keep your son and McBee on the bench!

Amen to that one!! I thought mcbee would be able to handle the pressure but he's just not getting it done. Pearl junior shouldnt be in the game unless they need someone to pick up some fouls or hurt the players on the opposing team.

adawson writes:

For all of you who are against Bruce Pearl, You need to remember he built this program. UT needs to support him through this. Yes, he did wrong, he has admitted it. UT basketball will be nothing without Bruce!! True TN fans need to support Bruce. Remember what Tn basketball was like before him, do you really want to go back? He is still the best thing to happen to UT in a long time!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

SPearl should be playing middle linebacker...maybe tight end...nose guard? You folks are too hard on him though...McBee has not shot well...but his defense is bad however.lol

VOLDoll writes:

in response to Colliervol:

With all due respect, I don't believe the players let Bruce down. It is the other way around and Bruce has only one person to blame for feeling "helpless". If he hadn't gotten stupid over admitting to a simple BBQ, he and the team wouldn't be dealing with this situation. Great coach but a terrible error in judgement. One that I am afraid the NCAA is going to make an example of.

lol! Great coach? Mrs Pearl how are you?

VOLDoll writes:

Speaking of helpless, has anyone seen Pearls end of the game play calling. Now that is freaking hopeless! lol!

JDL211 writes:

Check out a picture of the Associate A.D. he decided to watch the game with. Wonder how many bottles of champagne were sent to the room during the game.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

Speaking of helpless, has anyone seen Pearls end of the game play calling. Now that is freaking hopeless! lol!

Hey,Barbie, you can't exactly blame the ARkansas game on Pearl, since HE WASN'T THERE!!!!!!

martinvol34 writes:

in response to DebKY:

I hope you got tired of hearing about your "situation" with the NCAA! I know I am! Reduce your rotation, keep your best players on the floor, work on your inside game, and keep your son and McBee on the bench!

Wow. A somewhat intelligent comment from an assumed Kentucky fan. This comment got me going and aligns with your work on the inside game statement:

“Any big at the Division I level would have made the shots they were getting,’’ he said.

Except Brian Williams who is constantly trying to reach for the rebound instead of going up to get it. In addition, how many lay ups can this team miss over and over and over. It's painful to watch.

Kenny Hall should play more when we play agile posts like the ones on Arkansas. They ran circles around our bigs. It was pathetic.

And if Steven Pearl would jack up an outside shot every once in a while, it would at least make the other team guard him. His defense, hustle and rebounding are second to not one person on this team except maybe Tobias. If Scotty had Tobias' heart, the two of them alone could beat any team.

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