This is the time of year players start taking ownership of their teams and their programs. At Cleveland State that swagger is clear and evident. At Akron the determination is solid. At Kent State, for the first time in decades, the players seem to have little fight left for 2014.

The CSU Vikings (17-9, 8-3) just came through a four-game road swing unscathed, and sit one game out of a tie for first place in the Horizon League with five games left.

"Everybody is on the same page, coaches and players, going after this championship and trying to get to the NCAA Tournament,'' guard Charlie Lee said after back-to-back games of 31 and 25 points lifted Cleveland State to wins at Oakland and at Wright State.

Both games came down to the end, and while WSU coach Billy Donlon only spoke of his game with CSU, what he said actually spoke to how the CSU players have played throughout their recent six-game winning streak.

"They willed themselves to a win,'' the Wright State coach said.

Lee, averaging 10 points, shooting 45.8 percent on 3-pointers and 91 percent from the line, is not the only CSU player on a roll. Anton Grady, the 6-8 sophomore center, is averaging 12.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in Horizon League play.

Before conference action Grady had posted only one double-double. Since then he has four double-doubles and had nine rebounds in three other games.

The Vikings now have four straight games at home, including a Saturday matchup with Green Bay (19-5, 9-2).

Akron (15-7, 7-2), has been primarily doing what is expected, with a 60-57 loss to rival Kent State being the outlier. Beat the teams you are supposed to beat, and pull all the upsets that you can. With power forward Demetrius Treadwell regularly notching double-doubles, the Zips went into their Sunday road game at Bowling Green with four MAC road wins, including an upset at Ohio University.

Akron's other MAC loss was at home to favored Toledo. Overall, there is not much to complain about as the Zips are nursing their way toward a 20-win season, even without the services of point guard Alex Abreu (suspended). Regardless the outcome of the regular season standings, Akron still has to be considered one of the favorites to win the MAC Tournament in Cleveland in March.

Of Treadwell's 11 double-doubles, six have come in the last seven games, including a high of 14 rebounds vs. Eastern and Central Michigan, plus 18-point scoring games vs. Toledo and EMU.

The 6-7 Treadwell is starting to get some help from 6-8 teammate Nick Harney, who had scored in double figures in three straight games before Sunday, including his first double-double of the season in Akron's win vs. EMU.

"Right now, all of us are just trying to play consistent,'' Harney said. "That's certainly the goal for me, because that also puts you in a good mental place going down the stretch."

Kent State (12-11, 3-7) players just seem to have wilted, and this shows in particular with two of the most veteran Flashes. Senior center Mark Henniger entered MAC play with five games of eight rebounds or more, including one with 10 and one with 12. He has yet to grab eight rebounds in a MAC game. The 6-9 Henniger scored in double figures six times before MAC play, but only once in the league.

Junior point guard Kris Brewer is averaging 11.7 points a game, but has been inconsistent. After shooting 45.8 percent last season, including 42.4 percent on 3-pointers, he is shooting 38.3 percent and 26.2 percent this season. In the last four games, the 6-3 guard has scored 2, 8, 17 and 2 points, shooting a combined 10-of-40 overall, 1-of-16 on 3-pointers. This comes on the heels of five straight games in double figures, including three games with 14, 18 and 25 points.

Instead of a team that has "willed themselves to a win," Kent has consistently found ways to lose. Over the previous four years Kent only lost six MAC games by 10 points or more. With eight MAC games still to play, this group has already lost three, and two of those were vs. MAC West teams the Flashes have traditionally dominated.