By Mike Bachini, CBS Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – Kyle Washington was perfect for the Bearcats in the second half when Cincinnati’s offense was rolling on its way to an 80-61 victory over Tulsa on Friday night. Washington attempted 6 field goals and 3 free throws and made them all. For the game he finished 8-10 from the field and 5-5 from the free throw line. Was Washington making a concerted effort to focus on his offense in the second half?

“This may sound weird, but honestly, it was me not worrying about offense,” Washington said. “I mean, I just want to be focused and close a good Tulsa team out. They can sneak up in the second half and we just wanted to win. I just wanted to be a part of that effort.”

He was indeed just “a part of that effort”. Nine players played at least 11 minutes for the Bearcats in this one. Along with Washington, Jacob Evans finished with 20 points and Troy Caupain looked headed for a triple double with 10 points 6 rebounds and 6 assists with 16 minutes to play but ultimately fell short.

Head Coach Mick Cronin knows that in order for his team to win three games in three nights, a balanced attack and managed minutes will play a significant role. A 15 point halftime lead that quickly became a 24 point lead with under 15 minutes to play in the game, allowed him to do just that.

“My goal was to keep everybody under 30 minutes because we ended the season on a Sunday,” Cronin said. “And if we were lucky enough to end the season again on a Sunday, there’s a chance you can play Thursday at noon in the NCAA tournament. Hopefully it all plays out, but you have to win Saturday to get to Sunday, where maybe it will matter a little bit.”

A lot has been made about this year’s Cincinnati team and how it can balance the tough defense it has always been known for with a potent offensive attack as well.

“I think it will be a huge weapon for us in March, that, and I’ve told them I want them to keep on playing,” Cronin said. “Don’t walk the ball up the floor and start looking at the clock and late clock play. We don’t want to play the game in the 50s. We think that gives our opponent a chance to beat us.”

If Cincinnati plays with the balance it did last night they will be a very tough out not only the rest of the way in this AAC tournament, but also in the NCAA Tournament as well.

Follow Mike Bachini on Twitter @MikeBachini for coverage of the AAC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the XL Center in Hartford all weekend long. 


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