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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Even though New Mexico took a lead into halftime Wednesday night against rival New Mexico State, it sure it didn't seem that way to Lobos coach Craig Neal.
"Our guys are in the locker room like they're getting beat," Neal said after the Aggies scored the final five points of the half to pull within 38-32. "But that's a sign of a team with high expectations for themselves."
Those expectations were pretty much met as New Mexico (7-2) pulled away for a 79-61 lead but it was how the Lobos reacted by scoring three straight buckets to open the second half that Neal appreciated.
"Any time you can come out and get that run going, when you're up six and you can push it out, that's important because it's a momentum swing," he said.
Elijah Brown did a bit of everything for New Mexico with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Tim Williams added 18 points and seven boards and Cullen Neal had 13 points and a career-high nine assists.
Pascal Siakam had 21 for the Aggies (5-5). But Ian Baker, who is second on the team in scoring, left midway through the first half following a head injury. After running into a screen at midcourt, he lay motionless for about 10 minutes before slowly getting up and walking to the bench. New Mexico State spokesman Bill Powers said Baker is under the concussion protocol.
Baker's loss was a key to the game, said Aggies coach Marvin Menzies.
"He's one of our two backcourt guys," he said. "It's one of those deals where we were not going to be able to compete at our highest levels without our highest guys."
Sparked by three straight 3-pointers early, Lobos used a 10-1 run that put them up 16-9 early. The Aggies never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
During that opening stretch of the second half, Siakam picked up his third and fourth fouls.
New Mexico State particularly struggled from the line, going 13-for-29, and also missed all seven 3-point attempts.
Other playing with some grit, the Lobos didn't particularly have a great game, coach Neal said.
"I don't want anybody to take this the wrong way, but I feel really good that you can win with the margin that we won on and be disappointed on how we played," he said. "I don't think we played sharp. I don't think we played with a lot of energy. I thought we were stagnant. That's what happens with a young team, with a team that's trying to find their way."
TIP INS: New Mexico improved to 6-0 at home this season. The Lobos have held their last five opponents to less than 30-percent on 3-pointers. New Mexico has won 15 of 17 meetings between the schools.
With a block, Siakam moved into New Mexico State's career top 10 in the category. Before Wednesday, the Aggies season on 3-pointers was the two they hit in their last outing against Wyoming.
UP NEXT: New Mexico is home Saturday against Rice at 6 p.m. and New Mexico State travels UTEP on Saturday at 7 p.m.
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