ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - USC is in the midst of a stretch of games few teams would envy.
So losing 75-67 to No. 18 New Mexico on Wednesday night wasn't the worst of outcomes, Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill said.
``It's a brutal stretch,'' he said of the seven-game swing that includes games against four ranked teams. ``If we can survive it, we'll be fine.''
For a while USC (3-5) was thriving, taking a 28-18 lead over the Lobos (9-0).
But then New Mexico got its act together, putting together a 25-6 run over the final 7 minutes of the first half.
``That killed us,'' O'Neill said. ``We didn't guard anybody. We couldn't guard a lunch in a kindergarten class. The game was really won in the last 7 minutes of the first half.''
Hugh Greenwood, who led all scorers with 17 points, hit two 3-pointers in the closing minutes, including one at the shot-clock buzzer with 5 seconds left in the half, to give New Mexico a 43-34 lead.
Over the final 7 minutes of the first half, New Mexico connected on 8 of 11 shots from the field, including 4 of 6 on 3-pointers.
Eric Wise had 14 points to lead five Trojans in double figures while Dewayne Dedmon added 12 points and nine rebounds. But USC had trouble with New Mexico 7-foot post Alex Kirk, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
``I think Kirk is really good,'' O'Neill said. ``That guy is going to be a heck of a player.''
USC did turn in one of its better shooting performances, going 27 of 51 from the field, prompting O'Neill to say, ``I liked the way we played offense.''
The Trojans outscored New Mexico 32-20 in the paint and 17-4 on fast-break opportunities, but the Lobos won the battle of the boards 31-23 and had a 17-7 scoring advantage off the bench.
New Mexico took its biggest lead at 59-42 before the Trojans closed the gap behind a 13-2 run that made it 70-65 with 2:13 left.
``We cut it to five and we had our chances,'' O'Neill said.
But Kendall Williams followed with a 3-pointer for New Mexico to break the streak.
``You get a 17-point lead at home there are a lot of things to go wrong to be caught,'' Lobos coach Steve Alford said. ``I thought USC did a good job of continuing to play extremely hard.''
That rally showed that the Trojans have some promise despite losing their fourth straight, O'Neill said.
``We have 10 new players,'' he said. ``I'm glad with the way we played.''

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