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Bracketology: Virginia marches South as Tennessee drops; Kentucky a 2-seed

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With a coveted spot atop the South Region in play, Virginia benefited from Tennessee’s loss at Kentucky on Saturday night.  By a narrow margin, UVA moved to No. 2 on the Seed List, dropping Tennessee to No. 3 overall.  As a result, the Cavaliers march South as the No. 1 seed in the Louisville region, bumping the Volunteers to the Midwest.

Kentucky stays put as the top two-seed, which leaves an interesting question: Would the Committee place UK in the South Region opposite Virginia knowing the potential advantage it could give the Wildcats in an Elite Eight matchup in Louisville?

That type of scenario has worked out differently over the years.  The other option, given bracketing guidelines, would be for the Committee to slot Kentucky in the West Region, opposite Gonzaga, pairing No. 4 and No. 5 on the seed list together.  For now, UK stays South.  Let’s see how things shake out the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the ragged cutline continues to ebb and flow.  Wait a couple of days; it’s likely to change.

UPDATED: February 18, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Utah State vs. UCF
MIDWEST REGION Butler vs. Temple
EAST REGION ST. FRANCIS (PA) vs. CANISIUS
MIDWEST REGION NORFOLK ST vs. PRAIRIE VIEW

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                      
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) Virginia
16) ST. FRANCIS / CANISIUS 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Auburn
9) Seton Hall 9) Minnesota
San Jose Salt Lake City
5) Wisconsin 5) Texas Tech
12) Utah State / UCF 12) LIPSCOMB
4) Iowa State 4) VILLANOVA
13) VERMONT 13) OLD DOMINION
Des Moines Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Maryland
11) VCU 11) Arizona State
3) Marquette 3) HOUSTON
14) YALE 14) UC-IRVINE
Des Moines Columbus
7) Mississippi State 7) St. John’s
10) TCU 10) NC State
2) Michigan 2) Kentucky
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Jacksonville
1) GONZAGA 1) TENNESSEE
16) SAM HOUSTON 16) NORFOLK ST / PR VIEW
8) WOFFORD 8) WASHINGTON
9) Baylor 9) Syracuse
San Jose Hartford
5) Louisville 5) KANSAS STATE
12) BELMONT 12) Butler / Temple
4) NEVADA 4) Purdue
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) HOFSTRA
Hartford Tulsa
6) Florida State 6) Iowa
11) Oklahoma 11) Alabama
3) LSU 3) Kansas
14) TEXAS STATE 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Columbus Jacksonville
7) Cincinnati 7) Ole Miss
10) Texas 10) Ohio State
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina
15) MONTANA 15) NORTHERN KENTUCKY

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Texas Temple Clemson Davidson
Alabama UCF Florida Fresno State
Oklahoma Butler Furman Georgetown
Arizona State Utah State Nebraska UNC-Greensboro

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Virginia, Tennessee, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (8): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State

BIG 12 (7): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Butler

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (1): WOFFORD

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), St. Francis (PA) (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bracketology: Happy Valentine’s Day for Duke, LSU

AP Photo/L.G. Patterson
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Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we’ll sweep the epic crumbles of futility – otherwise known as this year’s bubble – under the proverbial rug and try not to look.

Instead, we’ll send Happy Heart greetings to the Duke Blue Devils and LSU Tigers, both of whom celebrated huge road wins in the Commonwealth on Tuesday.  For their efforts, Duke remains the No. 1 overall seed in today’s bracket.  LSU rises to No. 12 on the seed list, good for the final No. 3 seed.

As for those crumbles, today’s cutline decisions included serious consideration for teams like Oklahoma, Indiana, Butler, and Florida, all of whom have significant resume issues. There are no clear answers, especially with regards to how the Selection Committee will use the NCAA’s new NET ratings.  The good news for those four, and others, is we still have games to play.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 14, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
WEST REGION Clemson vs. Arizona State
MIDWEST REGION UNC Greensboro vs. Utah State
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Quinnipiac
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                       
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) TENNESSEE
16) QUINNIPIAC / NORFOLK ST 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Baylor
9) Alabama 9) Syracuse
San Jose Salt Lake City
5) Wisconsin 5) KANSAS STATE
12) LIPSCOMB 12) BELMONT
4) Iowa State 4) VILLANOVA
13) VERMONT 13) OLD DOMINION
Des Moines Tulsa
6) Florida State 6) Maryland
11) UCF 11) Texas
3) Marquette 3) HOUSTON
14) YALE 14) UC-IRVINE
Hartford Jacksonville
7) Mississippi State 7) Ohio State
10) NC State 10) Seton Hall
2) Michigan 2) North Carolina
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Hartford
1) GONZAGA 1) Virginia
16) SAM HOUSTON 16) ROB MORRIS / PR VIEW
8) St. John’s 8) WASHINGTON
9) Auburn 9) TCU
San Jose Des Moines
5) Louisville 5) Texas Tech
12) Clemson / Arizona State 12) NC-Greensboro / Utah State
4) NEVADA 4) Purdue
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) HOFSTRA
Jacksonville Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Iowa
11) Temple 11) VCU
3) LSU 3) Kansas
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Columbus Columbus
7) Ole Miss 7) Cincinnati
10) WOFFORD 10) Minnesota
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) Kentucky
15) MONTANA 15) TEXAS STATE

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Clemson Oklahoma Arkansas
Texas Arizona State Indiana Georgetown
UCF UNC-Greensboro Butler Fresno State
Temple Utah State Florida Davidson

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (7): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (2): WOFFORD, UNC-Greensboro

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Quinnipiac (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bracketology: Committee pens Duke, Tennessee as 1-2 punch

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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Few of us were surprised on Saturday when the Selection Committee announced that Duke and Tennessee were Nos. 1 and 1A on their Seed List.  After an action-filled weekend, neither position has changed, although one could argue that Duke’s win at Virginia, giving the Blue Devils a regular-season sweep, might create a more distinct line of separation between those two.

The only top-line move this morning was lifting Gonzaga to No. 3 on the Seed List and dropping Virginia to No. 4.  Gonzaga still reigns over the West Region and Virginia the Midwest.  Elsewhere, team positions on the first four lines mirror what the Committee gave us on Saturday.  One could argue whether or not Iowa State would stay after a home loss to TCU, or about how losses by Louisville and Wisconsin might also impact those lines.  For today, we’ll let the Committee’s voice be heard.

Unfortunately, the Committee didn’t provide us any sort of insight into what has become a very mediocre bubble picture.  Then again, why take on that headache right now? Hopefully, some cleaner lines of separation will develop over the next three weeks.

UPDATED: February 11, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION Butler vs. UCF
WEST REGION Oklahoma / Temple
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Canisius
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

EAST Washington, DC      SOUTH – Louisville                       
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) TENNESSEE
16) NORFOLK ST / CANISIUS 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Syracuse
9) Alabama 9) Baylor
San Jose San Jose
5) LSU 5) Texas Tech
12) BELMONT 12) Butler / UCF
4) Iowa State 4) NEVADA
13) HOFSTRA 13) VERMONT
Des Moines Hartford
6) Virginia Tech 6) Florida State
11) VCU 11) Seton Hall
3) Marquette 3) Purdue
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) YALE
Columbus Jacksonville
7) Cincinnati 7) Mississippi State
10) Texas 10) Minnesota
2) MICHIGAN 2) North Carolina
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
MIDWEST – Kansas City WEST – Anaheim
Hartford Salt Lake City
1) Virginia 1) GONZAGA
16) PR VIEW / ROB MORRIS 16) SAM HOUSTON
8) St. John’s 8) Auburn
9) Ole Miss 9) TCU
Salt Lake City Columbus
5) KANSAS STATE 5) VILLANOVA
12) LIPSCOMB 12) Oklahoma / Temple
4) Wisconsin 4) Louisville
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) OLD DOMINION
Tulsa Tulsa
6) Maryland 6) Iowa
11) Arizona State 11) Clemson
3) HOUSTON 3) Kansas
14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST 14) UC-IRVINE
Jacksonville Des Moines
7) Ohio State 7) WASHINGTON
10) NC State 10) WOFFORD
2) Kentucky 2) Michigan State
15) MONTANA 15) MONTANA

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Butler Georgetown Providence
Arizona State UCF NC-Greensboro Utah State
Seton Hall Oklahoma Arkansas Florida
Clemson Temple Indiana Creighton

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (8): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas, Oklahoma

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Butler

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Jarreau leads No. 12 Houston past No. 25 Bearcats 65-58

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
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HOUSTON — DeJon Jarreau scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, Corey Davis Jr. also had 16 and No. 12 Houston held off No. 25 Cincinnati 65-58 on Sunday.

Jarreau added eight rebounds and five assists. He scored 11 consecutive points in the second half, including six straight to give Houston a 63-58 lead with 3 1/2 minutes left. Davis and Jarreau each made free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal it for the Cougars (23-1, 10-1 American Athletic Conference).

Galen Robinson Jr. had 10 points for Houston, which won its eighth straight and extended its home winning streak to 32 games. Houston shot 49 percent from the field.

Jarron Cumberland scored 27 points on 9-of-25 shooting, and Cane Broome added 10 points for Cincinnati (20-4, 9-2), which had its eight-game winning streak snapped. The Bearcats shot 33 percent from the field, including 27 percent in the second half.

After taking a 58-57 lead on Cumberland’s 3-pointer with 6:11 left, Cincinnati missed its last 11 field goals and went scoreless for the rest of the game.

Houston led 34-33 at the half behind Davis’ 11 points.

BIG PICTURE

Cincinnati: Outside of Cumberland, Cincinnati struggled to find scoring. The rest of the Bearcats combined for 31 points on 13-of-41 shooting. Cincinnati forced Houston into 13 turnovers, which led to nine points. Cincinnati committed four turnovers.

Houston: The Cougars were able to use their size to change shots and prevent the Bearcats from getting any easy looks. Brison Gresham had four blocks and the Cougars finished with nine as a team. Houston held a 42-36 advantage in rebounding. Houston held a 32-20 advantage in points in the paint.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Houston could rise into the top 10 after going 2-0 this week. Cincinnati will likely drop out of the rankings.

Thursday’s Things To Know: AAC stays tied, Lagerald Vick steps aside and Pac-12 troubles magnify

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There weren’t many surprising results from the top-25 teams in action across the country on Thursday night, but there was significant news from both Kansas and Gonzaga (Killian Tillie can’t catch a break) while the AAC gets a dream matchup Sunday and the Pac-12 continues to be a nightmare. Here’s what you need to know”:

HOUSTON AND CINCINNATI BOTH WIN ROAD TESTS

It could have been an interesting night in the American. No. 12 Houston and No. 25 Cincinnati, both sporting matching one-loss conference records, were on the road against potentially tricky opponents in UCF and Memphis, respectively. It would have been easy to envision one losing, adding some tension into the league race or having them both taking Ls, injecting chaos into a league that’s been pretty orderly.

Both, though, won and continued to separate themselves from the rest of the conference and setup a monster showdown Sunday.

The Cougars had no trouble with the Knights, claiming a 77-68 victory, while the Bearcats held off the Tigers, 69-64.

Corey Davis, Jr.  had a big game for Houston, going for 26 points, five assists and three rebounds It was Jarron Cumberland unsurprisingly starring for Cincy with 17 points, six assists and six rebounds in a game the Bearcats had to really compete down the stretch to finally finish off.

Now, let’s talk about this weekend.

The first matchup between the two AAC frontrunners comes Sunday, with the Bearcats visiting Houston in what should be one of the marquee games of the weekend and the first of two bouts between these two teams.

It’ll be an interesting matchup with neither team sporting elite offenses, but strong defenses and deliberates paces. Cincy’s best bet will likely be to try to turn defense into offense as it has been solid in creating turnovers while that’s one of the areas the Houston offense hasn’t excelled. The way for most teams to attack Mick Cronin’s defense is at the 3-point line, but that’s not the strength of the Cougars, who instead rely on their offensive rebounding and the fact they don’t really have to score that much with how good their defense has been.

KANSAS LOSES A STARTER

It was just last week I used this space to muse about the vulnerability of Kansas’ Big 12 title streak. Sure, things looked less than great for the Jayhawks, but we’d seen that plenty over the course of the last 14 years only to then see Bill Self’s team ultimately on top of the conference standings.

But now it feels like bad is getting increasingly worse for the Jayhawks.

The school announced Thursday that starting guard Lagerald Vick will be taking a leave of absence from the team to deal with personal issues while his mother told the Kansas City Star he was needed back home in Memphis “for a couple weeks.”

Vick has been wildly inconsistent this season – and his playing time has been lately as well – but he’s a player that the Jayhawks are going to sorely miss for however long his absence runs. The margin of error for Kansas was already shrinking with a 6-4 league record and Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Baylor all looking like threats, and now losing a player like Vick, even with his flaws, only tightens that window. Dedric Lawson is now likely to see even more aggressive double teams with Kansas’ best 3-point threat off the floor and no clear player capable of replacing his 45.5 percent shooting from deep. It’s more than just losing a starter for Kansas, it’s losing a player that was providing a skill that Kansas has in short supply and allows its best player – Lawson – to be better.

Maybe Self figures this out or maybe Vick’s time away is short, but with the cascading bad news for Kansas, it feels like things are more likely to get worse than better.

THE PAC-12 IS REALLY TRYING TO BE A ONE-BID LEAGUE

Yes, it’s easy to pile on the Pac-12 for being awful this season. Sure, it’s probably been covered plenty this year that the league is down, even by its recent pedestrian standards.

But, I mean, c’mon. The conference just never seems to help itself.

Washington stayed perfect by beating Arizona in Tucson while Arizona State took a HORRIBLE loss at home to Washington State.

The Wildcats have now lost four-straight and five of their last six while Arizona State loss 91-70 to a Cougars team that was 8-14 overall and 1-8 in the Pac-12 in its home gym. I repeat, the Sun Devils lost by 21 POINTS to a team that previously had only managed to WIN A SINGLE GAME IN A HISTORICALLY TERRIBLE CONFERENCE. Bobby Hurley’s squad ain’t lookin’ so good right now.

Neither is the Pac-12, which continues to flirt with being a one-bid league.

Be sure to read Bubble Banter to get the in-depth look at what Thursday night meant, not only to the Pac-12, but the rest of the country trying to position itself heading into the regular season’s final month.

Jarron Cumberland scores 17 to lead No. 25 Cincinnati past Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the end, Cincinnati’s toughness — and leading scorer Jarron Cumberland recovering from a poor shooting night — helped the No. 25 Bearcats extend their winning streak to eight games.

Cumberland scored 17 points and keyed a late rally as the Bearcats defeated Memphis 69-64 on Thursday night.

“We weren’t able to get it done,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said, adding: “They were down in the second half, and they kept fighting and scrapping like we knew they would and we didn’t meet the challenge.”

Justin Jenifer scored 14 and Tre Scott finished with 13 points and nine rebounds as Cincinnati (20-3, 9-1 American Athletic Conference), which moved into the Top 25 this week, used a second-half rally to overcome a double-digit deficit.

“We didn’t come in not locked in and not focused, but we needed to pick up the pace,” Jenifer said. “.That was the main piece to our win today, was our defense.”

The Bearcats struggled with poor shooting and the pace of the game early. The Memphis lead reached 11 early in the second half before Cincinnati found its rhythm and began chipping into the advantage.

“We’re still learning how hard you have to play to win a game like this,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “We played harder as the game went on.”

That change in momentum came in the second half. Cincinnati struggled in the first, making only one of its last 15 shots in the half. That helped Memphis build a 35-29 lead at the break.

The lead would stretch to 11 early in the second half and Memphis still was up 44-34 with about 15 minutes to go. That was when Cincinnati began chipping away at the lead. A 12-2 run fueled by a defense that forced four Memphis turnovers, brought the Bearcats even at 46-all near the midway point of the second.

After the lead swayed back and forth, Cumberland, who struggled earlier, made the difference.

Memphis had pulled within 58-55 with 2 1/2 minutes left, when Cumberland scored the next nine Bearcat points to provide a buffer Memphis couldn’t overcome in the closing minute.

“It helps to have a great player to put the ball in the basket late in games,” Cronin said. “Jarron Cumberland is a great player.”

Jeremiah Martin led Memphis (13-10, 5-5) with 26 points, converting 8 of 14 from 3-point range. Kyvon Davenort added 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Mike Parks Jr. finished with 11 points.

Martin, who had 41 second-half points in the Tigers loss at South Florida last weekend, tried to keep pace with Cumberland, scoring eight points down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid their third-straight loss.

And Hardaway again, pointed to the difference in toughness at the end — Cincinnati had it; his team didn’t.

“It’s hard to do,” Hardaway said when asked how to develop tougher players. “You’ve kind of got to have it in you. That’s a product of what (the Bearcats) do. They recruit those guys.”

He added that Cronin is in his 13th season as Cincinnati coach. “He’s kind of found his system and his rhythm on players. As far as our players, there’s no way you can put toughness inside someone. You just have to go out there and battle.”

BIG PICTURE

Cincinnati: The Bearcats survived a poor shooting night (39.7 percent) to keep their winning streak alive and secure their national ranking. Cincinnati won the boards 38-32, including 14 from the offensive glass, leading to 12 second-chance points.

Memphis: The Tigers, who have played well at home this year, got off to a fast start and stayed close even during the second-half Cincinnati rally. They had controlled Cumberland until the game’s latter stages, but couldn’t stop him in the final minutes.

UP NEXT

Cincinnati: Visit Houston on Sunday afternoon

Memphis: Host UConn on Sunday afternoon.