Young scores 17 in second half as Drake rallies for 20th straight win

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) -- Josh Young hit one 3-pointer and then another, and suddenly, it was tough to remember all those shots that went awry.

He found his touch just in time, scoring all but one of his 18 points in the second half, and No. 15 Drake rallied for its 20th straight victory by beating Illinois State 73-70 on Tuesday night.

"I couldn't knock down shots in the first half, but [my teammates] told me to keep shooting," Young said. "That's what shooters do. I was able to knock down my first shot coming out of halftime, and I think that proved to be the difference."

Trailing by as much as 11 early in the second half, the Bulldogs went on a 17-2 run midway through the half that Young sparked. That turned a seven-point deficit into a 62-54 lead and they hung on from there -- barely -- to preserve the nation's second-longest win streak.

Illinois State had a chance to tie in the closing seconds, after Drake's Jacob Baryenbruch hit one of two free throws with 11 seconds left. But Levi Dyer missed a long 3-pointer, Osiris Eldridge missed a putback before the buzzer, and Drake escaped.

Only No. 1 Memphis (21-0) has won more in a row than the Bulldogs (21-1, 12-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who are threatening to win their first conference championship since 1971 and earn their first NCAA berth in 37 years.

Drake jumped into the Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 1974-75 season after it rallied from 12 down in the second half to beat Illinois State 79-73 in Des Moines on Jan. 19, and this one was as dramatic.

"We're making some progress," said Leonard Houston, who led Drake with 22 points. "The last couple years, we haven't been doing too well, but we have veterans on the team. We have so many leaders. Night in and night out, somebody's going to step up."

This time it was Young, whose second-half spurt allowed Drake to get back into the game. After missing all seven shots in the first half, he hit two 3-pointers midway through the second half to start that big run.

"The first half, they did a great job defensively," Young said. "They denied me the ball, put great pressure on me when I did catch the ball, so they made it tough to get shots off."

And they hung in after that run by Drake.

Illinois State pulled to 67-66 after a three-point play by Dinma Odiakosa with 2:15 left and refused to go quietly, even though point guard Boo Richardson had already fouled out. Drake's Adam Emmenecker answered with a three-point play, but the Redbirds stayed in it because of poor throw shooting by the Bulldogs.

Drake hit just 3-of-6 from the foul line in the final 38 seconds.

The Bulldogs did their damage from the outside, hitting 10 of 22 3-pointers. Houston was 3-of-5 and Young 4-for-10 from long range.

Dom Johnson scored 17 for Illinois State (16-7, 8-4) and Eldridge added 16.

"I'm proud of them," Redbirds coach Tim Jankovich said. "How can you fault them at all? I thought we played our tails off. It was a great effort. We maybe made a few mistakes, but they were fine. I can't fault them at all."

Early on, the Redbirds looked like they might be ready to beat a ranked team for the first time since an 87-65 victory at home over No. 24 Pittsburgh in Nov. 1997.

They walked into the locker room at halftime with a 38-29 lead thanks to timely perimeter shooting and several flashy plays -- none more spectacular than this one.

Eldridge flew in from the left side and jammed in Brandon Sampay's miss, a thunderous dunk that drew a roar from the crowd and made it 20-10 just over seven minutes into the game.

That seemed to wake up Drake momentarily, as Klayton Korver, Houston and Jonathan Cox each hit 3-pointers to pull the Bulldogs to 22-19. But Illinois State didn't blink. The Redbirds' lead was back up to 10 -- 31-21 -- after a 3-pointer by Johnson midway through the half.

"We have a lot of great players," Houston said. "Guys are going to keep their head. We try to stay positive about every situation."