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Illinois tops Gophers; suspensions force Pitino to start a walk-on

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Golden Gophers 71

Illinois Fighting Illini 84

Down three suspended players, the Gophers (8-19, 2-13) built a double-digit first-half lead only to lose to Illinois by double digits. Illinois outscored Minnesota 52-31 in the second half.

1. Three players violated team rules

Starting guards Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer, along with backup freshman guard Kevin Dorsey, missed the game due to suspension for a violation of team rules. No word from the Gophers on what rules were violated, but the one-game suspension doesn't appear to be as serious as the violation that got senior guard Carlos Morris kicked off the team a couple of weeks ago.

2. Gophers had to start a walk-on

With the three guards suspended, head coach Richard Pitino turned to true freshman walk-on guard Stephon Sharp to start at point guard. Sharp, the former Hopkins standout, finished with 19 points although he did turn the ball over 7 times.

3. Murphy with another double-double

Freshman forward Jordan Murphy has been one of the few bright spots for the Gophers this season, and he didn't disappoint again on Sunday. He finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his Big Ten-leading 11th double-double of the season.

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The Gophers wrap up the regular season this week with their home finale on Wednesday against Wisconsin and a road finale on Saturday at Rutgers.

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