Seth VanDeest scored 26 points Wednesday as Drake defeated Southern Utah 78-59 in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Rayvonte Rice added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs (2-1), who shot 45 percent from the field - including 8 of 15 from 3-point range - and came up with 12 steals against the Thunderbirds.
Matt Massey had 14 points and eight rebounds for Southern Utah (1-3).
Drake jumped out to a 26-14 lead with 8:39 left in the first half and carried a 38-29 advantage into the intermission.
The Thunderbirds pulled within five points when Jordan Weirick and Ramell Taylor hit jump shots to open the second half. But baskets by Rice and VanDeest and a 3-pointer by Ryan Wedel pushed Drake's lead back to 12, and the Bulldogs pulled away from there.
Southern Utah outrebounded Drake 39-30 but shot just 38 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers.