FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ Prosecutors say they will pursue the case against two Fresno State basketball players accused of beating and robbing a man, despite the victim's criminal record.

Colin DeForrest, 22, has theft and assault convictions dating back to 1995, the Fresno Bee reported Friday.

``Just because he's got a criminal record doesn't mean he can't be a victim,'' District Attorney Ed Hunt said.

Fresno State center Avondre Jones and recruit Kenny Brunner are accused of holding a pistol to DeForrest's head, hitting him with swords and stealing $275 in cash and a camera Tuesday.

The melee broke out after a party at Jones' apartment following the Bulldogs' victory over Memphis in the NIT, police said. The players were arrested for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon and robbery, but were released the same day.

Coach Jerry Tarkanian immediately kicked Jones off the team, which will play Minnesota in an NIT semifinal at New York Tuesday. Brunner, a highly touted transfer from Georgetown, was suspended indefinitely.

Both players have denied the allegations, the latest surrounding the troubled Fresno State program.

After his arrest, Jones told university officials that DeForrest came to his apartment Monday and ``started squeezing him for money,'' said school spokesman John Zelezny.

Attorney Mike Karagozian, who represents Brunner, said DeForrest's credibility should be questioned.

``All of a sudden DeForrest befriends Avondre and shows up drunk. Something tells me this is real fishy,'' he said.

Karagozian said DeForrest ``may be a member of a conspiracy to louse this program up once and for all.''

``I think at this point, this investigation could easily take a different turn,'' Karagozian told the Bee.

DeForrest moved back to his parents' home in Puyallup, Wash., this week.

Pierce County court records show DeForrest pleaded guilty in October 1995 to trying to steal a stereo from a van. He also was arrested last May for alleged driving drunk, court records show.

Other offenses include driving without a license, driving with an open can of beer in his car, misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor ``vehicle prowling,'' or attempted theft.

Another Fresno State basketball player was in trouble Friday _ point guard Rafer Alston could be penalized by a judge for failing to show up in court Thursday to explain why he hasn't completed community service for assaulting two neighbors.

Alston faces sentencing April 1.

On Wednesday, Fresno State president John Welty warned the team he would pull them from the NIT if the players did anything else to discredit the university.

Alston's lawyer assured school officials the problem was merely a matter of paperwork, Zelezny said.