UCLA is starting to think a little differently now that it has entered the stretch run of the basketball season.
For openers, the Bruins have evened their overall record at 10-10. They are also making a bid for second place in the Pacific 10 Conference. They are even allowing themselves thoughts about what it might take to make the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. postseason tournament.
Cautiously, carefully, and only when asked directly, UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard allows that his Bruins just might salvage a tournament bid out of a season that was looking bleak a few weeks ago.
There are nine games left on the regular schedule and then the conference tournament, which offers an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. Today, the Bruins will play Oregon State at Corvallis.
After winning at Oregon Thursday night, the Bruins are 6-4 in the Pac-10. UCLA has won six of its last eight games and have won three straight in conference play.
Losing only to top-ranked Arizona, the Bruins have won six of their last seven conference games dating back a loss to Oregon State at Pauley Pavilion.
Oregon State is 5-4 in conference, 11-7 overall and coming off a 27-point victory over USC. Oregon State has won two in a row. Before beating USC, the Beavers beat California by 36 points.
Interestingly for UCLA, the Oregon State game not only marks the point in the conference season that things seemed to turn around for the Bruins, it was also the first game that the Bruins played without 7-foot center Greg Foster, who has since transferred to Texas El Paso.
Senior Kelvin Butler, who has started at center since the departure of Foster, has held his own.
Sophomore forward Trevor Wilson, who was benched for the first 10 minutes of the Oregon game for disciplinary reasons but who will be back in the starting lineup today, leads the team in scoring with guard Dave Immel right behind him. Wilson also leads the team in rebounding.
Pooh Richardson leads the team in steals and assists. Charles Rochelin, who had a career high six blocked shots Thursday night, leads the team in that category. Kevin Walker, who came off the bench Thursday to add 13 points has come off the bench to score in double figures eight times this season. And, freshman guard Gerald Madkins, who was 3 for 4 against Oregon, has made 13 of 15 from the field in his last three games.
The game at Gill Coliseum today will begin at 3 p.m. and will be televised on Channel 2 and broadcast on KMPC radio (710 AM). . . . UCLA won at Corvallis last season, 57-53. . . . UCLA's next two games also are on the road, Thursday night at USC and Saturday at Notre Dame.