That stereotype held up Sunday in the Bruins 66-47 victory over their crosstown rival on the Trojans' home court.
It didn't matter that the Galen Center was filled, a sea of red washing out the speckles of blue. It couldn't have been more irrelevant that USC came out of the gate with its best offensive start of the season. And despite the widespread optimism after former Trojan Harold Miner was honored at halftime, nothing new could break the Trojans' current curse.
They've made a habit out of losing and it's one that can find no temporary fix.
"We embarrassed ourselves," freshman guard Alexis Moore said. "We did a disservice in our effort."
The Bruins exacerbated the problem by destroying the Trojans in the battle of the boards 44-19, capitalizing on oh-so-many second-chance points.
But USC had 8 fewer turnovers and 5 less personal fouls. This is a team that, could they learn to score, would have met their rival toe-for-toe.
Unfortunately for USC, Trojan leading scorer Maurice Jones made just four of 13 field goals. And no other player scored in double digits.
The Trojans shot a paltry 36 percent from the field, while the winners from Westwood shot a respectable 51 percent.
"We are what we are. We struggle to score. We obviously didn't play well today and we need to play better," O'Neill said.
The numbers make you want to squint, the play makes you want to close your eyes. And as the losses grow, so too do the deficits. The Trojans' 19-point loss comes after an 11-point loss to Arizona, which follows an 8-point loss to Stanford and 4-point loss to California.
It might seem easy to call it quits now, make assistant coach Bob Cantu USC's interim coach and call this season a "rebuilding" one rather than the oft-used "reloading."
"We have improved our team chemistry. But offensively we need to work on things," Moore said.
Alas, the Trojans still have 13 games. Nearly a third of their season remains. There are too many towels left to throw in.
Sure injuries have set this USC team back more than any other in the Pac-12 conference, but no excuse is good enough to be winless in league play. No reason is striking enough to have won just 5 of 18 games when you're recruiting in a hotbed of top-tier basketball talent.
It's the second consecutive year that the Trojans have lost to their Los Angeles neighbor in basketball. But in football? USC has won its last five meetings.
For O'Neill & Co. a rivalry loss seems not as important as a season spiraling out of control. The Trojans are now 3-8 in home losses, matching the most home losses since the 1998 season.
Doctor, miracle worker, new coach, whomever. Someone is needed to help these Trojans find an answer to this calamity. And they need to find one fast as they travel to Oregon on Thursday to face the Ducks.