MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota coach Richard Pitino tells The Associated Press that the decision by guards Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer to remain in school rather than transfer after an embarrassing suspension last year is one of the biggest reasons for the program's surprising success this season.

Mason and McBrayer were suspended for four games at the end of last season for their connection to a sex video that was briefly posted on social media. The other player involved, Kevin Dorsey, decided to transfer to Colorado State.

Mason and McBrayer tell the AP that enduring the criticism was difficult. But they decided to stay because of the support Pitino showed for them through the ordeal.

The Gophers won 15 more games this year than last and are the No. 4 seed heading into the Big Ten Tournament.