The seconds couldn’t tick off fast enough. The game had gotten out of hand long ago and toward the end of UCLA’s ugly 29-point loss to Cincinnati on Dec. 19, TV cameras caught a telling glimpse of UCLA’s bench.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands hid his face behind his left hand, the white shooting sleeve on his arm pulled down around this wrist like a bracelet. Cody Riley, sitting to his right, stared at his feet.
Two weeks and a coaching change later, the bench energy was dramatically different last week when the Bruins threw down high-flying dunks and alley-oops in their Pac-12 sweep of Stanford at Cal at Pauley Pavilion. It was a look at this season’s new version of the Bruins.
“(Cincinnati) was two-and-a-half weeks ago, so I do think right now we’re playing like a different team a little bit than we were then,” coach Murry Bartow said Tuesday. “We just didn’t play real well. So this is a whole kind of new day, new week.”
The Bruins, who continue Pac-12 play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Oregon, almost look like a new team under the 57-year-old interim head coach. He admits UCLA’s two wins under his watch are a small sample size, but he’s been pleased with the revitalization on offense. The Bruins (9-6, 2-0 Pac-12) are running without abandon, pushing the ball forward after makes and misses alike. It’s resulted in back-to-back games of 90 points or more, although Saturday’s win over Cal was marred by 22 UCLA turnovers.