ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- It perhaps wasn't the best game for New Mexico's Cullen Neal - he fouled out late in the second half after scoring six points.
But his Lobos beat San Jose State 74-58 Saturday and fans at the Pit greeted him with thousands of "Go Cullen" signs after New Mexico coach Craig Neal, who is his father, spoke out this week about threats his son has been receiving.
"It was awesome. It's good to see," coach Neal said of the response from the fans. "I feel kind of bad that I had to come out and say something. It's one of those things where you don't want that to happen. You want the fans to support all the players in the program. I would have done that for any player."
New Mexico (15-10, 8-4 Mountain West) had lost consecutive games and local criticism was extremely vocal, with Cullen Neal taking the brunt of bombast before coach Neal responded to a question about it during a news conference on Thursday.
"It's a vocal minority, we understand that," coach Neal said. "But when it starts weighing on somebody, it's enough. I'm done with it. I have to try to get him back to normal and get him going. But I'm done. I said what I had to say and we're moving forward."
"I really appreciate the way this community has supported me and my teammates the past few days," the younger Neal said in a prepared statement.
It took New Mexico a bit to do that as a team against the Spartans (8-17, 3-10) with the game going back and forth through seven early lead changes and six ties.
But late in the first half, New Mexico went on a 12-0 run that put them up 35-24.
"What I've been telling those guys, when they're in a run like that, you've got to make a basket or make a free throw to stop the bleeding so to speak," San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik said. "And we didn't do that. And they took advantage."
Elijah Brown scored 21 points for the Lobos and Tim Williams added 16 to help them break a mini slump of losing two consecutive games.
But New Mexico took the lead for good with 5:25 left in the first half on Brown's weaving drive through the lane that started the decisive run.
"I thought they were trying blitz or trap our pick and rolls to take the ball out of guards' hands," coach Neal said. "And that's smart. We were able to get some other people involved in the scoring. I think it just took us a little bit to get going."
Williams, who also had nine rebounds, went 7-for-8 from the field. And Brown, who added four assists, did much of his damage from the foul line, making 9 of 10.
Frank Rogers scored 12 with eight rebounds to lead the Spartans.
The big difference for the Lobos was down low, where they had a 30-14 scoring advantage. Although New Mexico committed 10 turnovers, it had a 10-0 bulge in fast-break points.
TIP INS: San Jose State: Cody Schwartz and Ryan Welage were 1 and 2 among Mountain West freshmen in 3-pointers, but they combined to go 2-for-12. ...With 33 points off the bench, more than half San Jose State's points came from reserves.
New Mexico: Entered the game with a 10-0 series advantage over San Jose State. ...In two games against the Spartans this season, Brown was 18-19 from the foul line.
San Joes State: Hosts Nevada on Wednesday.
New Mexico: At home Wednesday against Boise State.