San Jose State (7-14, 0-6 WAC) shot 51.4 percent in the first half - just the third time this season the Spartans made at least 50 percent of their shots to start a game - and finished with a 40.4 percent figure for the contest.
Idaho (11-9, 4-2 WAC) shot 50.0 percent and used a 4:29 spurt covering the end of the first half into the first two-plus minutes of the second half to wipe out a San Jose State nine-point lead and establish control.
D.J. Brown of the Spartans followed up his career-high 33-point performance three nights earlier against CSU Bakersfield with a team-leading 18 points. Forward Wil Carter and James Kinney each added 15 for San Jose State.
"We've been in this space a lot now. We haven't been able to close. To me, that's been the story of our season to date," said San Jose State coach George Nessman whose team had its biggest lead of the night with 2:22 left in the first half. "We put ourselves in position with an opportunity to win, particularly on the road. There are five games we came up on the short end. We have to keep our composure and we can't make fundamental mistakes."
Idaho built a 56-46 advanatge with 10:45 remaining, but the Spartans answered with a 9-0 run keyed by two Brown baskets including one of his four 3-pointers. San Jose State still trailed by only two, 61-59 with 5:01 to go after a pair of Carter free throws. A 12-4 run punctuated by two of guard Deremy Geiger's seven 3-pointers followed for the Vandals' win.
Idaho was 11-of-23 from 3-point territory compared to San Jose State's 7-of-27. The Spartans were 2-of-17 in the second half from long range.
"I thought we went to our zone defense a little bit more in the second half. It was very effective. We were able to get to their shooters, get them to miss and out of their range a little bit more. They missed some wide open shots that they made in the first half," said Idaho coach Don Verlin.
Geiger tied a career best with his seven three's for 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Center Kyle Barone matched the Vandals' leading scorer on the season with 21 of his own and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
"Idaho runs a lot of cutting action against a match-up zone. You can't switch those. Some of those cutters you have to go with them. It's a question of making good decisions of when to go and when not to go. I think we did that for the most part," said Nessman about his team's defense plan against the Vandals.
"They have some good players in the post and they were able to get some post scores. Geiger had a good night shooting. A number of them were deep. Give them credit for running their offense and staying patient. That's what they're known for."
San Jose State heads to Utah State for a January 28 game seeking its first conference road win of the season.