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“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

Welcome to Stanford’s world. And it’s not just one thing, but several somethings: #13 ASU went into Maples Pavilion, jumped out to a 17-point first half lead, and then held on for dear life, escaping with a three-point victory. How huge is this for the Sun Devils? (And no, we WHB folks are NOT surprised..)

The Sun Devils (17-1, 6-0 Pac-12) snapped a 16-game losing streak in the rivalry and won at Maples Pavilion for only the second time spanning 33 chances in program history and first since March 3, 1984. Coach Charli Turner Thorne, in her 18th year leading ASU, had never beaten the Cardinal at Stanford — where she played her college ball under Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer.

Guess that leave that CTT took in 2011 really revived her.

It doesn’t get any easier for the #11 Cardinal: The still have to play the Washingtons again (though at home), face ASU in Arizona…. and #9 Oregon State is looming Feb. 26th at OSU.

The Beavers will move on undefeated in Pac-12 play by virtue of their hard-fought victory, 75-67, over Washington.

Sure, Jewell Loyd scored 34 points, but that’s what she does. If I were Holly, I’d be worried that, as a team, #6 Notre Dame shot a sizzling 58.2% on their way to an 11pt victory over #5 Tennessee.

The new Associated Press Top 25 released Monday suggested neither Notre Dame nor Tennessee will be in attendance when the Final Four convenes in Tampa.

If there are four teams that can play better basketball than the sixth-ranked Fighting Irish and fifth-ranked Lady Vols played Monday in South Bend in front of a national television audience, especially for a stretch of scintillating can-you-top-this shot-making in the first half, college basketball is in for a heck of a show in April.

But if Jewell Loyd isn’t part of that show, it will be our loss.

#3 Baylor carved up the #8 Longhorns in Waco, 75-58. Yes, Ariel Atkins is back, but #8 Texas seems to have lost some of its mojo. The fact Nneka Enemkpali left the game with a knee injury has got to make everyone’s gut clench.

UPDATED: Texas forward Enemkpali lost for season with torn ACL

In other weekend scores:

Speaking of lost mojo – Northwestern has stumbled badly, losing three of their last four.

West Virginia righted their ship – at least for one game – and took down #21 Oklahoma State, 61-49. The Cowgirls seem to have thrown a shoe.

Sic’em Sooners: Down go the Horned Frogs and the Cowgirls. Texas Tech is next, followed by Texas. Sherri and company seem to be on their way to rescuing a seemingly lost season.

Many people, some at least, when things are going very well, begin to look for when, where and how everything might fall apart. And things are going very well for coach Sherri Coale’s Oklahoma women’s basketball team.

Yet, even with today’s 3:30 p.m. tip coming up against Bedlam rival Oklahoma State, the Sooners appear not at all wrapped up in what might go wrong, nor how they might be affected if something were to go wrong.

Heck, yes, the MAC is going to be a dogfight: Ohio, Central Michigan, Akron and Ball State are pounding on everyone… and each other.

American is busy putting distance between themselves and the rest of the Patriot League.

Keep an eye on this one in the West Coast Conference: Gonzaga (6-0) at St. Mary’s (5-1), January 22nd.

Middle Tennessee State rolled La Tech, but you’ve got to be looking ahead to their rematch against Southern Miss. And then there’s that game v. #24 Western Kentucky

Not only have the Lady Toppers won 13 games in a row, the last 11 games by have come by double digits, all by at least 14 points.

WKU’s 13-game winning streak is tied for the sixth longest streak in the nation entering Sunday’s games. Western will look for its first 14-game or better streak since the 2002-03 season when it returns to the court on Thursday. WKU has just four streaks in program history of 14 consecutive wins or better. The school record is a 21-game streak during the 1990-91 season. The Toppers’ 13 straight wins are tied for the eighth longest streak in Conference USA history.

Fresno State is enjoying it’s status atop the Mountain West. But, they just escaped Wyoming…  and face Colorado State in a couple of weeks.

Nice win for Sacramento State. They score under 80 points, yet give Eastern Washington their first in-conference loss, and move into the top spot in the Big Sky.

Ouchos Gouchos. How far Santa Barbara has fallen. They stay winless on the year as Long Beach stomps all over them, 81-44.

Illinois State is also winless and, unlucky Redbirds, they get to go up against Wichita State next.

Marist dispatched Sienna. Quinnipiac dumped the Jaspers. Thursday, they get to go against each other. 

# 16 Duke handled the Hurricanes, 68-53, behind Williams’ double-double. Miami doesn’t have a lot of time to recover from the loss (of Laura Quevedo): they face Louisville on the 25th.

In a good news, bad news day: Seton Hall overwhelmed Depaul, 107-87. The Pirates then announced they’d dimissed Bra’Shey Ali from the team for multiple violations of team rules. The leading rebounder for the Hall, Ali had similar issues at Kentucky.

Fordham and George Washington are still the cream of the A-10.

No, they’re not setting the basketball world on fire, but I am noticing Rhode Island is a LOT better than they have been in the past few years.

This is an “upset” to the uninformed: Down-two-Kentucky falls to Up-one-LSU, 84-79.

#23 Minnesota was pushed by Indiana, but escaped with a 65-61 win.

It was an ugly offensive game, 32.7% v. 32.8%, but #22 Iowa will take the 2-point win over Michigan State.

#1 South Carolina is marching through the SEC. Next up, #10 Texas A&M.

Not only did Florida get tattooed by the Gamecocks, they then had to dismiss guard Antoinette Bannister after she was charged with credit card theft and fraud.

And more on Kim: Through foundation, Kim Perrot’s spirit is felt on MLK Day

While the nation celebrated the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King this weekend, Loretta Perrot Hunter had another strong person who changed lives on her mind.

The sister of the late University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s basketball great and former Houston Comets star Kim Perrot had tears of joy all weekend long as Kim’s jersey was retired by the Ragin’ Cajuns Saturday.

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what might be…

Top 25 celebrates 20th anniversary as writers poll

This season marks the 20th anniversary of the AP women’s basketball Top 25 poll’s shift to voting by writers and broadcasters.

Before the 1994-95 season, the poll was determined by coaches and compiled by Mel Greenberg, who started it in 1976. Here’s a look at some of the highlights over the past 20 years

AP Division I Poll

USA Today Coaches Division I Poll

…and what might have been.

From Tennessee: Lady Vols’ DeShields discusses transfer from UNC

From Cincinnati: Senior guard Alyesha Lovett, the team’s best returning player, injured her Achilles tendon and will miss the season.

From Ohio: And then there were seven: Injury knocks Chelsea Mitchell out for season

“It stinks,” McGuff said before adding. “It stinks. It stinks. It stinks. It stinks.”

Freshman forward Makayla Waterman already had knee surgery to repair meniscus and ACL injuries that she suffered during the first official practice of the season. Chelsea Mitchell will join Waterman as a redshirt freshman next season.

That puts 40 percent of McGuff’s highly regarded recruiting class from last November on the shelf before the team has played a game. Nearly two months will have to pass before transfers Shayla Cooper or Kianna Holland are eligible to play per NCAA rules

From Iowa: Iowa State guard Nikki Moody suspended indefinitely

“Nikki’s attitude in the team setting has become a distraction to our learning environment,” Fennelly said in the release “We have high behavioral standards to allow us to develop our team in a way that we can have success on and off the court and her behavior has been inconsistent with those values. Nikki can return to team activities if/when improvement is seen.”

Nearby, Ryan Murken says the Iowa women’s basketball team has depth to match talent

“I think this is the deepest we have been in a long time, if not maybe since I’ve been here,” Bluder said Thursday at Iowa’s annual media day. “We have 14 women on scholarship right now — which that alone is going to give you more depth — but it’s really the quality of the depth.”

From Arizona: ASU women’s basketball returns enough to contend

I’m fine about being the only one of 35 voters to include Arizona State women’s basketball in the Associated Press preseason top 25.

It’s not a homer pick because I believe ASU returns enough to build on last year’s surprising 23-10, NCAA second round season. The Pac-12 is good, that’s why the Sun Devils are picked to finish sixth by the media and seventh by the coaches. But they have more offense that stats suggest given the loss of leading scorers Deja Mann and Adrianne Thomas and more size than their starting lineup will indicate.

An editing note: I’d love to give credit to the author, but I can’t seem to find a name attached to the article.

Go Behind the Scenes during the 2014-15 BGSU Women’s Basketball Media Day

From the land of the Cavaliers: UVa women’s basketball team’s freshman trio making quick adjustment

UVa is into its fourth week of practice as it prepares for its Nov. 14 opener with Ohio State at John Paul Jones Arena.

Come that Friday, everybody will still be more than a tad raw on the defensive end of the floor.

“When you teach it for the first time,” Boyle said, “it’s a two-year process.”

That should suit her four-year players just fine.

Down the road, Lexie Brown takes on leadership role for Maryland women’s basketball

…the season-ending loss soon became a learning experience, one that Brown is taking with her as the Terps enter their first season of Big Ten play. And after logging big minutes in the 2014 NCAA tournament — including a team-high 38 against Notre Dame — the sophomore guard has emerged as what teammates call “a natural leader.”

“She just understands what things to say when we’re going through adversity, and how to get out of it,” center Malina Howard said.

Across the thruway: New Lady Lion players have high expectations and Penn State women’s basketball: 5 takeaways from media day

The expectation of the Lady Lions—to win—doesn’t change with the lineup, Coach Coquese Washington said. The standards are still set as high, even with the graduation of all but one starter from last year’s  24-8 squad that won a third consecutive Big Ten title and made it to the Sweet 16.

“How we do those things, what it looks like on the court may change depending on our personality from year to year, but the expectations certainly don’t change,” she said. She got that advice from women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose.

Heading south to the home of the Blue Devils: Duke women’s basketball ready for new faces to step up

Today’s scrimmage showed the Blue Devil faithful that though they lost familiar faces, change can be a good thing.

At the Blue-White Scrimmage at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday, Duke’s highly touted second-ranked incoming class—along with redshirt Rebecca Greenwell and transfer Mercedes Riggs—made their first public appearance. Combining for 63 points, more than half of all points scored all afternoon, the Blue Devil newcomers are ready to make their presence felt in the ACC and beyond.

From the west coast, the Cal Bears’ blog previews The supporting cast

Previous WBB season preview installments: Part 1: Boyd and Gray, the best duo in the west. ; Part 2: Predicting the Pac-12 standings + previews with Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

Before we get into the preview content, some important pieces news:

David speaks with the Bears’ coach: Lindsay Gottlieb & Cal look to take the next step

Sue has been previewing the Pac 12:

The good news for Oregon State is the bad news for everyone else: the team that roared to a 24-11 record, tied for second place in the Pac-12, played for the conference tournament championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament’s second round last season is the only team in the Pac that returns all five starters this year.

Sophomore guard Sydney Wiese (14.3 points, 4 assists per game), junior guard Jamie Wiesner (12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), junior center Ruth Hamblin (9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 blocks per game), senior guard Ali Gibson (9 points per game) and junior forward Deven Hunter (8.8 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) are all back, as are four reserves. Three promising newcomers round out a solid roster that already has both players and coaches chomping at the bit to begin play.

About that elephant in the room… “I know no-think!” (Yes, I’m a tad cynical): Hatchell says she was unaware of academic fraud, lauds Boxill

The report indicated that women’s basketball players were steered to the classes by Boxill, the academic counselor for more than 20 years beginning in 1988 and the faculty chair from 2011-14. Boxill acknowledged editing some athletes’ papers, and a review of her e-mails disclosed several instances where she made specific grade suggestions so that women’s basketball players could stay on track academically.

In one exchange, Deborah Crowder – the AFAM secretary who issued grades for the illegitimate classes – wrote Boxill to ask if a D would be okay for a specific player, since her final paper had no sources and had “absolutely nothing to with” the class.

A little WNBA stuff…

Out of Minnesota: Taylor Does Little Things Needed To Win

Asia Taylor certainly wasn’t the flashiest player on the Lynx last season. She was last pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, and while she saw tons of collegiate success as with Louisville, she was by no means a lock to make the team at the start of Training Camp last season. 

Until she was. 

Taylor showcased her skills as a versatile swingman throughout Training Camp and caught the attention of coach Cheryl Reeve. Reeve saw a lot of value in some of the things Taylor brought to the team and ultimately decided to keep her on the roster. 

“I knew I was an underdog coming in,” Taylor said at the start of last season. “They basically say third-round picks are just here until the veterans get back and … wanted to prove differently.” 

Pierson used career crisis as springboard to success

In the early part of the 2001-2002 basketball season, Plenette Pierson wasn’t thinking about her legacy at Texas Tech. She was thinking about whether she wanted to finish her Texas Tech basketball career at all.

A star player who was suspended for most of her junior year, Pierson sandwiched a pair second- and third-team all-America seasons around that one and wound up one of the leading scorers in Lady Raiders history. The center from Kingwood was inducted Friday night into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.

From the Nigerian Tribune: Nigerian-American basketball star sisters celebrated in US

Nneka and Chiney are award-winning basketballers based in the United States of America (USA). Not forgetting their roots, they have decided to give back to their country of descent, Nigeria, by raising funds for girls, who are either denied or lack access to qualitative education. 

Looking to the future, Swish Appeal’s Albert has 3 key differences between two of the WNBA’s and NBA’s oldest teams

Last week, Conor Dirks of Truth About It wrote about the transformation of the Washington Wizards NBA team from one of the league’s youngest teams in 2010-11, to the oldest team based on average age at one point during the 2014-15 preseason.

This caught me off-guard at first, as I recently criticized the Seattle Storm and their team building strategy. Like the Wizards at that point (they are now second oldest per RealGM), the Storm was the league’s oldest team based on average age during the 2014 WNBA season. While it’s easy to just look at average age and simply say that the Storm and the Wizards are old teams in their leagues, they don’t share that much in common based on how they are currently constructed.

Speaking of the WNBA & NBA: NBA, WNBA legends with Olympic ties to run New York City Marathon relay

WNBA rallies around Lauren Hill

Elena Delle Donne had chills when she first heard about Lauren Hill.

The WNBA star was brought to tears the more she read about the Mount St. Joseph freshman, who has inoperable brain cancer.

Delle Donne will attend Hill’s game on Sunday as a fan, moving a speaking engagement to make sure she could be there.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing for her and I want to be there to support her,” Delle Donne said.

The game will be streamed:

The matchup with Hiram College at Xavier’s 10,000-seat arena will be available for free on FOX Sports Go online and through the app, even for users who usually can’t access the service. FOX announced Friday the game will also air on FOX Sports Regional Networks, including in Ohio, and FOX College Sports.

The Big East is producing the game, which starts at 2 p.m. EST.

Says Cincinnati.com: Lauren Hill’s game now the nation’s

Lauren Hill’s college basketball debut is here.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Hill and the Mount St. Joseph women’s basketball team will tip off against Hiram College at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The sellout crowd of 10,250 will be there to see Hill realize her dream of playing for the Lions.

Hill’s story, by now, is everywhere. Nearly 60 media members from local, regional and national outlets will continue documenting the aspirations of No. 22, the forward with an inoperable form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Tickets were snapped up in 30 minutes for the player with a positive outlook and a terminal diagnosis.

Lauren Hill fundraiser invites schools to donate basketball jerseys for auction

From across the ocean: Basketball more than just a game for Saudi women

Women’s basketball is gaining in popularity in a kingdom rife with public restrictions on female movement and activity. With the help of some U.S.-trained coaches, female enthusiasts are using basketball to push for greater rights for women on and off the courts in Saudi Arabia.

“We are an activist team,” said Lina Almaeena, who started the first women’s basketball team here 11 years ago. That led to the creation of Jiddah United in 2006, the first sports club in Saudi Arabia to include women. “We took it upon ourselves to really promote the sport at a time when it was a big time taboo … when there was a self-imposed censorship on women’s sports.”

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…and Graham having to count to 10 several times…. (Saint Mary’s beats Gonzaga and gains 5 points in AP voting. Arkansas beats Miss. Valley St. and gains 3 points. Sure, that makes sense.) I know I don’t get all het up about them because it’s such a pain to be one of the people who votes in these polls….if you take that position seriously. Which means you should be watching a LOT of games and/or reading a lot of game reports. Which, honestly, in many cases ain’t gonna happen ’cause you’re too busy coaching or writing.

But, even if I don’t get all het up about it, others do and some argue “polls mean nothing until after the season is over,” there’s no doubt that being ranked can be a huge benchmark for a program and a measure of validation for the coaches and players.

So, I understand why Graham is cranky.

In a week where St. Mary’s Danielle Mauldin is ESPN’s player of week (teammate  Jackie Nared was also nominated) , Graham writes: West Coast Conference flexes its muscle

It took Gonzaga winning for a lot of people in women’s basketball to notice the West Coast Conference. A Gonzaga loss should help people see how much the league has grown.

If you aren’t keeping an eye on the WCC, you’re missing a good show.

He also adds: Undefeated teams? Unanswered questions (Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma St.)

The AP Top 25 offers an interesting check this week on the value of scheduling. After its win against Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s should be a strong contender to break into the rankings, likely at the expense of the team it beat. On the other hand, the Gaels didn’t attract a single vote a week ago. Arizona State and Arkansas, the unranked teams with the most votes in the most recent poll, didn’t hurt their cases in the abbreviated week, so will one of those two replace Gonzaga instead?

Sweet win for Kelsey’s Badgers: Missed chances, UW sink Phoenix

This one might hurt for a while.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team appeared headed for a big win over in-state rival Wisconsin on Monday night, only to watch Badgers guard Nicole Bauman hit a 35-foot bank shot with 0.4 seconds left to tie the game.

Wisconsin put the finishing touches on its dramatic comeback in overtime, escaping with an improbable 65-61 win in front of 4,931 fans at the Kohl Center.

Ditto for ASU:

No. 24 Arizona State women’s basketball validated its return to the national rankings for the first time in four years with a hard-fought 63-60 win Monday night over No. 20 Syracuse.

Says Jeff Metcalfe: ASU women’s basketball looking good in unproven Pac-12

The good news locally is that No. 25 Arizona State is the revelation of Pac-12 women’s basketball so far.

The Pac-12 as a whole, though, still has somewhat of an unproven feel with the full start of conference play beginning Friday. Wins such as No. 4 Stanford over No. 5 Tennessee, ASU over No. 10 North Carolina and unranked Washington State over No. 18 Nebraska and the scare Oregon State threw into No. 2 Notre Dame before losing 70-58 Sunday make statement. But a combined 8-23 record vs. Sagarin top-50 teams sends the opposite message.

VCU’s having a nice start to the season.

So, keep an eye on Jan 2 – that’s when 13-0 San Diego takes on 12-1 Saint Mary’s.

And keep an eye on Jan 5 and Jan 9th – that’s when 13-1 NC State takes on Syracuse and North Carolina.

And keep an eye on January 16th – that’s when 13-1 Mississippi State takes on Tennessee.

So, who’s been eating cupcakes? Mechelle & Michelle: Conference Play Begins (BTW, American Conf. play has already started.)

Michelle also asks: Have They Met Expectations?

Did you catch espnW’s Photos of the Year?

BTW, not only was she good for the league, but Griner was good for writers. She ranks high on Swish Appeal’s list. And, congrats to Kate Fagan, whose piece on BG, “Owning the Middle,” earned her a place on some “Best of 2013″ lists. You might want to check out Fagan’s “Bo’13” list.

For my own year-end list, though, I’m sharing some of the best sports pieces written by women (at least the ones I’ve read and enjoyed), along with a few non-sports stories, too. I’m singling out female writers because not enough female writers get singled out. Part of this is because, statistically speaking, there are so many more men writing about sports. But I also believe there tends to be more showmanship — morelook at me, I’m writing — on the part of the male writers who frequently tout each other’s work on social media. The lopsided nature of most of these lists is because sports media is still a boy’s club. Very few women work in executive, decision-making roles on the editorial side, so cultivating and growing female voices is still less of a priority than it should be, as is attaching female writers to impactful, meaningful topics — and not just stories about women or subjects that need a “softer” touch.

All “best of” lists should be taken with a grain of salt, obviously, because one person’s great read is another person’s snoozefest. The problem is, the paucity of women on these lists, year in and year out, delivers a specific message to young female sportswriters: Yes, the door is open to you, but just barely.

Oh, yeah – and here’s  New Year’s Resolution for the Three to See: Be seen on court, not by tweet.

WATN? Mazzante set to announce her retirement

Kelly Mazzante has traveled the world playing basketball. The Montoursville legend became the Big 10’s all-time leading scorer for men and women at Penn State before winning two WNBA world championships and playing well throughout Europe.

Wherever she has been, Mazzante has never forgotten her home. She has worn uniforms in the WNBA, Slovakia, Russia, Hungary and Italy, but Mazzante always has been, and always will, be a Montoursville girl.

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This time it was the .comCurse (Candace Parker’s Road to RedemptionParker is in midst of her prime playing some of the best basketball of her career right now) and Jayda (Welcome to hot seat Candace Parker; your must-win title push starts now.):

The Sparks, starting a season-high five-game road trip, were without All-Star Game MVP Candace Parker due to an injured right wrist. Her status for Los Angeles’ next game, Sunday at Washington, was uncertain.

Parker’s absence shouldn’t diminish the Shock’s win, nor Cambage’s career high 28pts. 

“It’s good to beat a good team,” Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “We really want to push for the playoffs and we know we’ve gotta beat some of these elite teams to get there.”

Guess Diggins got her birthday wish.

The Laurel was in Minny: 

She was asked about a pre-season survey of league general managers, who picked Phoenix to finish first in the Western Conference, followed by Los Angeles and Minnesota. The Lynx have the league’s best record (14-3) at mid-season. “Maybe there were some bright, shiny toys in the window that got people excited,” she said, referring, perhaps, to highly-touted rookies like Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner. “But I can’t imagine anyone affiliated with the WNBA considering the Lynx an afterthought.”

The Lynx confirmed their non-afterthought status by sluggishly starting and then slugging the stubborn Stars, 85-63.

“Everybody says, ‘What do you have to work on?’ ” Reeve said, acting as though the question was preposterous. “There is a ton we have to work on. … We played in spurts. We feel we have to play better, for sure. But in the end, statistically, we had a pretty good game.’’

Guess so.

In Chicago, Big Syl was…well, BIG as her 10-14 (32pt-15rebs) shooting made up for Prince & Cash’s double-double (3-13) carried the Sky over the Mystics.

“You know, she’s a beast,” Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. “I call that her beast mode. … Look at her toenail polish when you go in there (to the locker room). She’s got that Incredible Hulk Green on.”

“Pack Up Your Basketballs In Your Old Kit Bag:” USA Basketball Announces Plan To Relocate Headquarters To Tempe, Arizona

USA Basketball today officially announced that it has agreed to relocate to Tempe, Arizona, as part of a $350 million development project. USA Place, LLC, has been selected to develop a new national headquarters and training center for USA Basketball on a 10.5-acre site located next to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus on land owned by ASU at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive.

I can see the financial lure. Wonder how the staff will feel — and what impact it will have on the athletes (bball and other sports).

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for women to have a career in college athletic departments (though, clearly there’s a job opening for a headline copy editor at the Pittsburgh Trib)

In 2005, at age 49, Arizona State University hired Love as vice president for athletics, the highest-ranking job in the department. Six years later she is one of just five women to occupy the top athletics administrative position at a Division I-A school.

Some believe the lack of women serving as athletic directors is about to change, with qualified women rising up the ranks. Others believe it would have changed already if not for qualified women — and men — who are happy occupying the No. 2 spot and who have no desire to take on the far more public role of athletic director.

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