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Steve Lavin receives warm welcome

LOS ANGELES -- Former UCLA coach Steve Lavin was still on the floor an hour after Saturday's game ended, tending to old friends and familiar faces from his time in Westwood.

Even a 66-59 loss to the Bruins couldn't keep Lavin from smiling. He posed for photos, shook hands and waved hello at anyone who approached him.

"I've always felt at home and comfortable at Pauley because of the 12 years I spent here," Lavin said. "There's always familiar faces, friendly faces, that make you feel at ease. As I anticipated, it was a bit surreal walking into the opposing locker room. It did take me a moment."

Lavin stood near the UCLA bench before the game and momentarily stayed there until he was approached by an assistant.

"Coach (Gene Keady) was like, 'Steve, we're on the other end,'" Lavin said with a grin.

For the most part, Lavin received a warm welcome. The only questionable move was made by UCLA's student section, which mocked Lavin's slick hairdo by passing a tub of hair gel around prior to the game. Students took their share of gel and slabbed it on.

UCLA coach Ben Howland said afterward that he didn't notice any negativity. He was happy Lavin was treated well in his return.

Lavin said he probably would reflect on the game in the offseason.

"Once the game started, as coaches we're trained to focus on the task at hand," he said. "I lost myself in the competition of the game."