Alford, Eustachy kings of the Mountain

The two are headed back to the NCAA tournament this year

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Ten years ago next month, Iowa defeated Iowa State in a second-round NIT game in Ames, 54-53.

Though Steve Alford coached the Hawkeyes for three more seasons, it was his last postseason win at Iowa. It was Larry Eustachy's last game at Iowa State, period.

Eustachy resigned in May 2003 after having been suspended with the recommendation he be fired for violating a morals clause in his contract.

In 2004, Eustachy began an 8-year run as Southern Mississippi's head coach. In 2007, Alford left Iowa to become the head coach at New Mexico.

After coaching Southern Miss to the NCAA tournament last season, Eustachy left Hattiesburg to become the head coach at Colorado State. That's in the Mountain West Conference, where Alford won three regular-season titles in his first five years in Albuquerque. Alford's MWC record is a gaudy 64-25, and that's a very good basketball league.

Today, their teams are in what amounts to a 2-team battle for the regular-season championship of the MWC. New Mexico is 9-2. Colorado State, which plays at UNLV tonight (Wednesday) is 8-2. No other league team has fewer than five losses in MWC play.

Alford's Lobos beat CSU in Albuquerque on Jan. 23, 66-61. Saturday, New Mexico plays at Colorado State.

I never got the sense either coach had much time for the other when they coached in Iowa. But that was a decade ago.

They are a very gritty group," Alford said of Eustachy's Rams. "They fight you. They do a great job defensively of making it hard on you. And it is, without question the most relentless rebounding team we have faced all year. They attack the glass on free throws. It's almost as if they're trying to rebound balls on timeouts."

"He just does a terrific job," Eustachy said about Alford before their game at New Mexico.


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