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Beyond the arc: Texas Tech Basketball has strong start to conference play

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Could this be the year the Red Raiders dethrone Kansas?

Nikopoia

Texas Tech Basketball leading the way in the BIG 12

Texas Tech Basketball has just one loss overall, is 3-0 in conference play, and is ranked number eight in the nation. With gritty wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma, Texas Tech looks to be a legit contender for the Big 12 title. Chris Beard’s squad also managed a huge road win over the West Virginia Mountaineers, marking the first in school history. But why is Texas Tech Basketball having so much success and will it translate to a conference title?

Obligatory Jarrett Culver Talk

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It seems so obvious to point at Jarrett Culver and realize that his improvement is the main reason why this team has not only kept the momentum from last year, but could be argued this team has even improved. My favorite part about Culver’s game is that he knows where his spots on the floor are, and nobody will stop him from getting there. Culver rarely takes bad shots, a must when playing in Chris Beard’s system.

Much like Zhaire Smith, Culver has gone from a relative unknown to a potential lottery pick in what feels like overnight. As you may have read, Culver was mock-drafted to the Lakers, and since the publication of that article he may have risen further in the draft.

Culver leads Texas Tech Basketball in all major categories (scoring, assists, and rebounding) and his improvement from last year has been substantial.

Jarrett Culver

Season MIN PPG AST REB FG%
Season MIN PPG AST REB FG%
2017-2018 26.4 11.2 1.8 4.8 0.455
2018-2019 30 19 3.9 6.2 0.564
Jarrett Culver Season Stats

Culver’s continued growth and development will be key for the Red Raiders through the rest of conference play, but there is one other piece to Chris Beard’s puzzle that is just as important:

The improvement of Davide Moretti

The Italian Stallion! If you watched Texas Tech play a conference game this season, you’ve probably been pleasantly surprised by the Italian native Davide Moretti. Much like Culver, Moretti’s game has taken a clear step forward this season. In my opinion, Moretti is the best player to run Chris Beard’s offense. His minutes have almost doubled this season and his scoring is up from about 3 point per game to 9, and rightfully so. Moretti is always pushing the tempo or resetting the offense at the right time. Moretti led the team in Tech’s win against Kansas State with 19 points.

Looking ahead - Meet Jahmius Ramsey

Not to derail things here, but it’s players like Zhaire Smith and the emergence of Jarrett Culver that give Chris Bead the ability to get a guy like Jahmius Remsey. Ramsey is a 6-4 guard that is currently ranked the 29th best prospect in ESPN’s Top 100 list. Oh yeah, and he’s committed to Texas Tech. He is a dunking sensation and is sure to bring Texas Tech some firepower in the future.

Will Khavon Moore Play This Season?

The highest recruit in Texas Tech Basketball’s history (at the time) has not played a game this season due to an injury he sustained his senior year of High School. It was an injury similar to that of Paul George. Jarrett Culver takes the ball up the court on almost every possession he is on the floor, and while I like Culver’s movement off the ball, I think we need another ball handler when Culver is on the bench. This is a role I see Khavon Moore filling if he is not given a redshirt. It is doubtful that he will receive one, however, as he was dressed and on the bench for the Oklahoma game. If Moore plays this season, expect him to play a key role come March.

Will Texas Tech dethrone Kansas?

I will revisit this in a month or so, but wanted to touch on it now. Udoka Azubuike, Kansas’ star big man, will miss the rest of the season due to ligament damage in his hand. This is big news for the rest of the Big 12. I think if Chris Beard keeps getting the same level of production from Davide Moretti, some consistency from a slightly disappointing Matt Mooney, and some help from a healthy Khavon Moore then there is a shot to do something that hasn’t been done over a decade: Beat Kansas for a Big 12 regular-season Championship.