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MBB Preview: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. DePaul Blue Demons

South Carolina opens the 2015 Paradise Jam with a match-up against the DePaul Blue Demons. A win would give South Carolina its first 3-0 start since 2012.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina (2-0) vs. DePaul (1-1)

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Frank Martin and his seniors have been treated to some quality trips over the last four years. The group has traveled to Hawaii, Mexico and Charleston during their time with the program. Along with plenty of fun, Martin's teams have actually found modest success in these early season tournaments.

They are 7-3 overall in their destination bouts over the years. USC swept the Hoops For Hope Classic in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2012, going 4-0. In 2013, they followed it up with a 2-1 mark at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Last year, in a competitive Charleston Classic, the Gamecocks finished 1-2.

This season the Gamecocks head to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the 2015 Paradise Jam. Their first game in the eight-team tourney is Friday night against DePaul. The Blue Demons followed a 69-63 opening win over Western Michigan with a 68-62 loss at Penn State.

Dave Leitao is on his second stint with the program after coaching Chicago's team from 2002-05. They'll play fast under Leitao, partly because that's his style and because DePaul's outside shooting may be worse than South Carolina's attack. Through two games, Leitao's team is shooting just 15 percent from three-point range, making just four triples in their two games.

Duane Notice had four himself in South Carolina's latest outing, an 84-66 win over Oral Roberts. He's hitting 53.8 percent from deep this year but he may be USC's only competent shooter on the roster. DePaul will undoubtedly have a zone defense in their gameplan against South Carolina. If a coach doesn't attempt to play zone against the Gamecocks, that coach should immediately be fired.

Norfolk State and Oral Roberts both zoned USC but the Gamecocks were able to execute against it in the long run. They overpowered Norfolk State while Notice shot the Golden Eagles out of their gameplan. Once ORU was out of their zone, USC's bigs took over. Laimonas Chatkevicius poured in a career-high 27 points, including 19 in the second half. Mindaugas Kacinas pulled down 13 rebounds in the game, one shy of matching his career high.

The two Lithuanians have led the team to an outstanding offensive rebounding effort through the first two games. The Gamecocks have taken 19 offensive boards in each game, a necessity if USC continues to shoot poorly. They'll need as many extra possessions as they can get and playing the boards is much more in line with Martin's thinking than trapping on defense and going for steals.

More transition opportunities will be key for the offense as the season moves along and DePaul's tempo should create more of them than usual for South Carolina. The Blue Demons boast senior forward Myke Henry and junior guard Billy Garrett Jr., both of whom average over 16 points per game. For the first time this season, USC won't have a major height advantage as they'll face Henry and DePaul center Tommy Hamilton.

South Carolina's win over Oral Roberts gave them their first 2-0 start since the 2012-13 season. That was the last year they started 3-0 as well. A win on Friday night would match that start and earn them the right to play the winner of Florida State and Hofstra on Sunday night.