The Vandals looked as if they were going to record a season sweep of Utah State after they led the Aggies 29-14 in the first half, but they fell apart in a 67-50 loss.
The defeat snapped a five-game winning streak for coach Don Verlin's team, and the loss could be a costly one in terms of seeding for next month's WAC tournament.
The loss knocked the Vandals (16-12, 7-5) closer to fifth place than second with two road games left in conference play.
Idaho now must go on the road for the final week of the regular season with games at Hawaii and San Jose State (9-19, 1-11 WAC). Idaho is alone in third place, one game ahead of Hawaii (15-13, 6-6 WAC) and Utah State (15-14, 6-6 WAC). The game against Hawaii is crucial as the Rainbow Warriors won at Idaho earlier this season, so the Vandals would need a win to secure the tiebreaker should the teams finish tied.
The loss at Utah State also prevented Idaho from clinching a winning conference record (the Vandals have already clinched a winning overall record for the season). One win in Idaho's final two games would give the Vandals another winning WAC season.
--Junior C Kyle Barone was named the WAC Player of the Week last week as was predicted by coach Don Verlin after Barone's three-game performance of 15.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per outing against Seattle, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. Barone continued to dominate Feb. 18 in a 77-68 win over Portland State. He scored a career-high 25 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field with eight rebounds.
Verlin, when asked if this was the type of play he has expected out of Barone, said, "No question. He's a good player, and he's really come into his own, especially here in the last little bit. The WAC player of the week last week, and 10-of-11 tonight, that was the third (tied for third) best single game individual shooting performance in Idaho history. I've really been happy with the way Kyle is playing."
--Idaho had four players score in double figures against Portland State on Feb. 18 and almost had three with double-double performances. Junior C Kyle Barone was only two rebounds away from joining senior G Landon Tatum (10 points and 10 assists) and sophomore F Stephen Madison (15 points and 11 rebounds) in posting a double-double.
"This team likes each other," Idaho coach Don Verlin said of the balance. "This team has good team chemistry. They're a good passing team. I thought our guys did a good job making the extra pass tonight."
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- The amount of turnovers for senior guard Landon Tatum in a 77-68 win over visiting Portland State on Feb. 18. Tatum tallied a career-high-tying 10 assists in 35 minutes.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're getting closer. I don't know if we're all the way there yet, but we're getting closer. I like where our program is at right now. Two of our three seniors graduate on time. Landon (Tatum) just needs three units, Djim (Bandoumel) will need the summer to graduate, maybe a little bit more after that, but I really like where it's at it. I like the guys we've got in the program. I think we've got some youth. We were fortunate enough to sign one real good high school player, and hopefully we can continue to build." -- Idaho coach Don Verlin
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
TRENDING: In the loss to Utah State, the Vandals had only one scorer in double figures for the third time this season.
FUTURES MARKET: Idaho's Class of 2012 verbal commit Ty Egbert, a 6-foot-8 center from Coulee Dam (Wash.) Lake Roosevelt, led his team to a district title last weekend by scoring 32 points in a 79-55 win over White Swan.
--F Kyle Barone, coming off back-to-back WAC player of the week awards, scored a season-low six points on 2-of-9 shooting in the loss at Utah State.
--G Sheridan Shayne, a walk-on, recorded a career-high two assists in the loss to Utah State.
--F Wendell Faines scored a career-high five points in the loss at Utah State.