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Mar 30, 2013 7:36 PM by Bill Halter, AP

Alford hired to coach UCLA basketball

UCLA has hired Steve Alford as men's basketball coach, luring him from New Mexico days after Alford signed a new 10-year deal with the Lobos.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero says Alford is "the perfect fit for UCLA" because he connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented style of play to Westwood.

Alford succeeds Ben Howland, who was fired last weekend after 10 years at UCLA.

Alford led New Mexico to a 29-6 record this season that included the Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles. But the Lobos were upset by Harvard in the second round of the NCAA tournament shortly after Alford's new deal with the school had been announced.

Alford, whose hiring was announced Saturday, will be introduced at UCLA on Tuesday.

From disbelief to disappointment, the emotions are all over the map as New Mexico basketball fans try to digest the news.

Alford told his team about the move Saturday morning and explained to reporters a few hours later that it was a tough decision. The move was a shock to Lobos fans because Alford had just signed a new 10-year contract that could have been worth up to $2 million a year.

The Lobos have won back-to-back conference championships and have made three NCAA tournament appearances.

Former Lobo Club president Scott Creagan says everyone is upset because Alford did such a wonderful job.

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