The Gophers were feeling good after two consecutive wins and a trend of improved play over the last couple of weeks.

That's what made the team's announcement just over an hour before Minnesota's tip off at Illinois especially jarring.

Sophomore Nate Mason and freshmen Dupree McBrayer and Kevin Dorsey will all sit out against the Illini on Sunday night after "violating team rules," according to a university statement.

"With the privilege of being a member of the University of Minnesota basketball program there are expectations and standards to which we hold our student-athletes accountable, and they have failed to do so," coach Richard Pitino said in the statement.

As a result, the Gophers lose its leading scorer and assist man -- Mason -- two-fifths of its starting lineup, 33 percent of its total scholarship-bearing rotation and leaves just six players available, barely enough to field a team.

Additionally, Mason, McBrayer and Dorsey are the only three players who have had minutes at point and represent the only true guards on the team. Dorsey typically backs up starters Mason at point and McBrayer at shooting guard. After senior guard Carlos Morris was dismissed from the team earlier this month -- for "conduct detrimental to the team" -- the 2-guard position has been especially thin as well. 

In other words, expect to see a lot of walk-ons Stephon Sharp, Darin Haugh and Mike Lukashewich tonight.

Sharp will start at point guard with freshman Ahmad Gilbert filling in at shooting guard.

Dorsey has already been once this season -- for an exhibition game at the start of the year. The team did not elaborate on the reasons behind the suspension then.

Mason, McBrayer and Dorsey combine for 26.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.4 assists a game.
  

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3 Gophers basketball players suspended for rest of season