After the Arizona Wildcats' 57-46 win over the Trojans Sunday, USC has lost its fifth straight game and is the only school in the Pac-12 without a conference win.
"It's real tough. I'm not used to losing like this," freshman guard Byron Wesley said. "Honestly I don't even know the answer to it."
The Trojans (5-12, 0-4) just couldn't match the offensive pace of the Wildcats, who held onto a double-digit lead for 32 minutes of the game. While the Trojans led the turnover margin 9-17, USC only shot 29.3 percent, compared to UA's 43.8 from the field.
"Bob Knight said that when you make shots you look pretty, you're the Prom Queen. And when you don't, you don't get invited to the Prom. Shot making, basically, is that," USC head coach Kevin O'Neill said.
After arguably the Trojans' worst game of the season, a 62-53 loss to Arizona State on Thursday where they looked sluggish and uncomfortable, the team showed great effort against the loaded Wildcats who made a run to the NCAA Elite Eight last season.
"We'll take any improvement right now," O'Neill said. "I can tell our guys fought the second half."
The crowd of 5, 112 in attendance began to chant "U of A" just before the half, as Arizona accumulated a 16-point lead that seemed insurmountable.
"They didn't really feel much pressure throughout the game," O'Neill said.
"It's ugly to watch. I feel bad for the guys. We're not trying to miss shots."
While Sunday's result remains the same as the four prior, the performance by the Trojans was a gritty one and could be a confidence builder as USC continues to search for its first conference win.
"I think our rebounding is pretty good, our defense is very good, we value the ball," O' Neill said. "We are not scoring points. And that's not a news flash."
Even when the Trojans regained a bit of confidence in the second half, the Wildcats seemed to edge their way back. Sunday's game was the 10th time this season USC has had 12 turnovers or less.
"USC is an outstanding defensive team. No one comes in here and scores at ease [on them]," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said.
"We know that we have what it takes on defense and we know that when we get rolling on offense, we should be a better team," Wesley said.
O'Neill said he plans to work with individually in the next month or so, presumably on everything from fundamentals to shooting.
"I think definitely [shooting is contagious]. If one guy is not making a shot, maybe other guys get less confident and they start missing shots," Wesley said.
USC is suffering through its worst conference start since the 2004-2005 season when the Trojans lost their first five conference games.
"It's more frustrating for our players than it is for anybody else," O'Neill said. "We have to get back to the drawing board."
O'Neill & Co. will have time to draw up plenty as their next opponent, UCLA, comes to the Galen Center in a week, on Jan. 15, at 6 p.m.