CARBONDALE — SIU's men's basketball team followed a familiar formula in its seventh conference loss of the season Tuesday night.
The Salukis (13-13, 6-7 Missouri Valley Conference) went down double digits in the first half, trailed at the break for the 16th time this season, and were never able to take the lead again in a 72-69 loss to Drake (19-7, 8-5). D.J. Wilkins led three players in double figures with 20 points, and the Bulldogs shot 46.4 percent from the field (26 of 56) to win for the fourth time in their last five road games.
SIU lost for the 12th time in 16 games it trailed at halftime. The Salukis rallied to beat Northern Iowa, came from 10 down at the half to beat Bradley on the road, and topped Tulsa by 10 after trailing by three at the half. SIU also rallied to beat Howard at SIU Arena after going down 39-33 in its fourth game of the season.
With 34 second-half points against Drake's 30, the Salukis outscored a conference opponent for the ninth time. SIU got as close as two points in the final seconds, but was unable to take the lead after the Bulldogs sank 8 of 10 free throws in the second half. The Salukis made 8 of 14 at the stripe, 4 of 7 in each half, and fell into sixth place in the Valley.
Unlike against Evansville, when SIU got all five starters into double figures, the Salukis were largely a two-man show against Drake. Guard/forward Armon Fletcher scored a game-high 21 points, and center Kavion Pippen delivered 19, his fourth straight game with 18 or more.
Forward Nick McGlynn had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs. Guard Brady Ellingson added 17 points and three of Drake's 14 assists on 26 buckets.
"To beat a good basketball team, in my opinion, you just have to have that third player," SIU coach Barry Hinson said. "They had that third player (Tuesday night) and we didn't. We didn't have that third player."
• Do you still hate him?: Saluki fans did not bring any "I Still H8 Creighton" T-shirts with former Bluejays assistant coach Darian DeVries back in town.
DeVries was an assistant coach at Creighton for the last 17 years before taking over Drake's program in 2018. The Bluejays are 53-36 against SIU lifetime and were part of three of the most-attended single sessions in the history of the MVC tournament.
SIU and Creighton's 2007 MVC tournament final in St. Louis is still the best-attended single game in the event's history while in St. Louis (22,612 fans). The Bluejays won 67-61 at what is now called the Enterprise Center. The semifinals of that 2007 tournament, with SIU taking on Bradley and Creighton taking on Missouri State, also drew 22,612 fans.
Drake's 19 victories are the most since the Bulldogs won the Valley in 2008 under another first-year head coach, Keno Davis. Drake went 15-3 in the league that season and 28-5 overall.