After a seesaw first half, Iowa State gradually pulled away from Appalachian State and then held off the Mountaineers 104-98 on Thursday in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in Conway, S.C.
The Cyclones led 73-59 after two 12-2 runs sandwiched around six straight points from the Mountaineers.
Iowa State pushed its lead to 79-61 with 8:25 to go.
It was a much-needed win for a rebuilding team.
The Cyclones (1-2), picked to finish ninth in the Big 12, suffered double-digit losses in their first two games, including Monday’s 74-56 drubbing by Milwaukee, Iowa State’s first loss in a home opener in 20 years.
Donovan Jackson scored 24 points and Nick Weiler-Babb added 23 to lead the Cyclones, who shot 51.6 percent for the game.
Iowa State limited Appalachian State (2-1) to three offensive rebounds in the second half after the Mountaineers had 10 in the first 20 minutes.
Justin Forrest came off the bench to score a game-high 32 points and Ronshad Shabazz added 30 for the Mountaineers.
It was a back-and-forth affair early.
Appalachian State took its first lead at 19-18 with 12:34 left in the first half. The teams traded leads seven more times during the next two-plus minutes.
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Cameron Lard scored five straight points to give Iowa State its biggest lead of the first half at 47-40.
Ronshad Shabazz answered with a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, and the Cyclones led 47-43 at the break.
Iowa State moves to the semifinals, where it will take on Tulsa (2-1) at 6 p.m. Friday (ESPNU).