MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Rodrick Sikes scored 21 points and made four 3-pointers and South Alabama held off a late rally to defeat Appalachian State 79-73 in a Sun Belt Conference opener on Thursday night.

Appalachian State's 12-3 run in the final 2 ½ minutes cut a 14-point Jaguars lead to 75-70. South Alabama's Kory Holden made a pair of free throws then O'Showen Williams answered with a 3 for Appalachian State. Leading by four, the Jaguars twice made one of two free throws and Appalachian State missed a pair of 3-pointers to finish out the game.

Trhae Mitchell added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Jaguars (8-6). Josh Ajayi also had a double-double, with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Ronshad Shabazz led the Mountaineers (5-9) with 21 points and Isaac Johnson added 14 points with six rebounds.

Appalachian State led 25-11 midway through the first half and 31-22 near the five-minute mark before South Alabama, which finished with nine 3-pointers, made four 3-pointers in a 12-0 run to take the lead and added two more points for a 36-31 halftime advantage.

The Jaguars went up by 11 — 47-36 — on a 3-pointer by Sikes with 14:36 remaining in the second half, maintained a comfortable margin over the next 12 minutes and led 72-58 after another 3-pointer by Sikes at the 2:33 mark.