On this day one year ago Keenan Evans stole the show against Oklahoma, out-dueling Trae Young with 26 points and giving Texas Tech a 1.5 game lead in the Big 12 fight. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders Evans would break his toe in the next game against Baylor, which caused a four game losing streak with Keenan in and out of the lineup. After that stretch many Red Raider fans were very skeptical about then freshman Davide Moretti’s ability to play effective Division 1 ball, as he had looked outmatched in the increased minutes he received due to Evans’ injury. He had a decent NCAA tournament, however his spot as a starter was certainly not a given heading into this season.
Moretti started the season off slow, however after a non-conference in which he only reached double figures twice, the sophomore has put up at least ten points in 11 of the team’s last twelve games. Davide has also made at least one three in 13 straight games, which is the longest such streak of the Chris Beard era. The Italian has also been extremely efficient with the ball in his hands, averaging only 1.3 turnovers per game, only half of what his starting counterparts Matt Mooney and Jarrett Culver have averaged. Moretti is now second on the team in scoring behind Jarrett Culver.
Beyond having great counting stats, Moretti has become one of the most efficient players in the Big 12 during conference play. The sophomore guard has put up a shooting split of 50/45/91, which would be the first 50/40/90 during a full conference season in Big 12 history (of players with at least 100 minutes- two bench warmers technically meet the requirement for percentages.) Additionally, Moretti has a true shooting percentage of 66.1%, which ranks in the 98.9th percentile, and is third highest among qualified players in the Big 12. His offensive rating of 128 in conference play is third highest in the Big 12 as well, and is significantly higher than any other Tech guard.
Aside from being lethal from beyond the arch, Moretti has been exceptional from the mid range. While he has been shooting the midrange jumper at a low volume, he has still been excellent. He is 22-39 (56.4%) from that area this season despite only being assisted on 13.6% of those shots. This seems to indicate that his isolation game has improved dramatically, which could allow him to play more on-ball. That would free up Jarrett Culver to play in a more off-ball role, which I believe will work due to the evidence that he is one of the best off ball players in the country (his three point percentage when playing off ball as a freshman was near the top of the Big 12 at nearly 42%.)
The biggest thing keeping Davide from getting more recognition is his overall involvement in the offense. His 15.5% usage rate is only in the 15th percentile nationally, and is nowhere near that of his star teammate Jarrett Culver (30.5%), who has been nowhere near as efficient as Moretti in conference play (92.0 ORTG, 49% TS) and has generally looked overwhelmed by defenses funneling him with multiple players. If both received usage rates of around 20-25% it would not be unreasonable to assume that the offense would flow better, as Culver would get less defensive attention as an off ball player, while Moretti would be able to utilize his three point shooting ability to space out the defense while still being a threat on the drive due to his midrange (56.4%) and paint (60%) efficiency.
Ultimately, Texas Tech will need Davide Moretti to continue to shoot at a high level in order to have success on offense. If the Italian sharpshooter could maintain his high efficiency level while getting a few more touches it could raise the potential ceiling for the offense quite a bit, and could be the difference maker in a potential Big 12 title run.