Titans shoot for first place

First place is on the line for the men's basketball team as Big West Conference leaders Cal State Northridge play at Titan Gym tonight at 7 p.m.

"Each game we play is the biggest game of the year, but the ramifications are great," Head Coach Bob Burton said. "They're in first and we're right on their heels."

However, senior Frank Robinson said the stakes of the game won't change the team's mentality or preparation.

"It's just another game," Robinson said. "If we take that approach and just play hard like we have been playing we'll be fine."

The Titans, 18-7 and 10-3 in conference play, defeated the Matadors 80-72 (18-7 overall and 10-2 in conference play) in their only other meeting this season on Feb. 2 at the Matadome.

The win was the Titan's eighth consecutive victory against the Matadors.

Robinson and forward Scott Cutley attributed the win to the fans who went to the game in Northridge.

"It was great how the fans came out there and that really got us through that win," Cutley said. "Hopefully, we can get a big turnout [tonight]. That will just be another advantage on our side. When the fans here get it going and they start cheering, it's one of the best feelings and gives you an extra boost."

Burton said there hasn't been much of a home court advantage at the gym, but said the fans can make a huge difference.

"I can't say how much that helps," Burton said. "Anytime we have a good crowd there it's just absolutely amazing how much they help and turn this into a home-court advantage."

The Titans have been on a roll lately, winning their last four and eight of nine to move into second place in the Big West.

The hot streak has put the team in position for first place, which hasn't happened this late in the season since the 1975-76 campaign. The Titans have never held the conference basketball championship by themselves, only sharing the title in 1976.

The team is also attempting to become only the second Titan team to win 20 games in a season. They would be the first team to do so since 1982-83.

CSUN has a three-game winning streak against conference opponents since the loss to Fullerton at home.

Junior Deon Tresvant leads five Matadors averaging double figures in points, giving the Titans no time to rest on the defensive end.

"The two things they do better than anyone else in the conference is run and have great defensive pressure," Burton said. "Our biggest thing will have to be getting back and playing defense on them."

Six Titans will be honored as part of senior night as CSUF continues its quest for a Big West Conference tournament top seed in its home finale against Long Beach State, Saturday at 6 p.m.