Ah, South Carolina. UNC's neighbor to the south, the school that fled the ACC back in the seventies and disappeared off of the basketball map shortly thereafter. The Gamecocks have made four NCAA tournaments since the field expanded to 64, never advancing beyond the first round. Any state rivalry has withered away in forty years of irregular scheduling, leaving the two teams to travel to Sin City just to meet on the basketball court.
This is the fourth season for coach Darrin Horn, and it so far doesn't seem to be much of an improvement on the last few. South Carolina has lost two of its four games, to small schools Elon and Tennessee State. They needed a later rally to beat Mississippi Valley State, the third straight game they've been behind by double digits in the second half. Part of this is personnel; Horn lost two players from the program in the offseason and a third is still playing football.
The team is throwing a lot of players on the court trying to find something that works, and most of the offense comes from Malik Cooke, a Nevada transfer and childhood UNC fan. USC runs a dribble-drive offense with lots of three-point attempts, and Cooke is the leading scorer, despite only shooting 36.8% from the field. Also expect a lot of shooting from Damien Leonard the freshman guard with a sub-30% shooting touch, and sophomore point guard Eric Smith, who does most of the ball-handling while Bruce Ellington is on the gridiron.
Interior defense was actually a strength of the Gamecocks last season, but their big men are now all freshmen and sophomores who saw limited playing time last season. The team has been out rebounded by smaller opponents, and hasn't generated many turnovers.
The bottom one is, this gave should be a pretty simple post-Thanksgiving feast for the Heels, unless they come out lethargic or otherwise disengaged in the game. South Carolina will be lucky to escape the SEC cellar this year, and shouldn't get out of this gym looking remotely respectable.