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George Mason’s Erik Copes, Vaughn Gray suspended for three games

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Two key members of the George Mason men’s basketball team have been suspended for the first three games, increasing the number of players disciplined before the season has started to three.

Sophomore forward Erik Copes, the program’s most important big man, and sophomore guard Vaughn Gray, a smooth shooter off the bench, were suspended for “student-athlete conduct violations,” the athletic department announced Tuesday.

They will miss the opener against Virginia on Friday night at Patriot Center, as well as games at Bucknell next Tuesday and against Mercer in the first round of the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Nov. 16.

Patriots Coach Paul Hewitt did not want to comment on the suspensions, a spokesman said. The pair will continue to practice with the team.

Junior guard Sherrod Wright was suspended for the team’s exhibition against Bowie State on Oct. 25 for violating an athletic department rule. He is likely to start against Virginia.

Last season, then-senior guard Andre Cornelius was suspended for the first 10 games after being arrested on campus and pleading guilty to credit card fraud.

The Patriots, who won 24 games last season, have been picked to finish third in the Colonial Athletic Association.

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