The Trojans played hard enough Thursday. They shot well enough. And they defended well enough. But they still didn't win, as USC (16-13, 8-9) fell 59-54 to Arizona State (21-9, 11-6) in Tempe, Ariz.
The Sun Devils' Rihards Kuksiks provided a lot of his team's offense, shooting eight of 13 from the field and scoring 24 points. Only Derek Glasser joined him in double figures with 11.
USC's Mike Gerrity and Marcus Simmons had 11 points each.
With 11 minutes to go, USC led 39-38, but consecutive 3-pointers by Kuksiks and Glasser gave the Sun Devils a five-point lead they would never relinquish.
The Trojans did get as close as 55-54 with 18 seconds to go after a dramatic 3-pointer from Marcus Johnson, but Kuksiks nailed two big free throws and Dwight Lewis missed a misguided shot attempt to clinch the ASU victory.
Now, USC must end its four-game losing streak and win Saturday morning at Arizona to salvage a .500 Pac-10 season, while the Sun Devils must beat UCLA and see Cal lose to Stanford to grab a share of the regular-season Pac-10 title.