Good Morning, Illini Nation: More on Niccolo Moretti

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Welcome to "Good Morning, Illini Nation," your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He'll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood's team and college basketball at large:

Niccolo Moretti had the best game of his career Saturday in Illinois' 95-85 win against Iowa. The redshirt freshman guard made the first two three-pointers of his still young career and finished with a career-high nine points in a career-high 17 minutes.

"My concerns with Nico are never on the offensive end," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. "They've always been about defense. I kept him in because of what he was doing on the defensive end. He got over the top of every ball screen. He didn't foul. We all know he might weight 170 soaking wet, yet he's in there fighting and competing."

Moretti did have an impact offensively, though, in a game where neither Terrence Shannon Jr. nor Marcus Domask was at their best. The 6-foot-1 guard created for the Illini in ball screens and attacking the basket in addition to his efforts defensively.

"I think he adds a different pace," Illinois forward Coleman Hawkins said. "Pace coming off ball screens. Looking low opposite. He's good at those skips. He's good at reading ball screens. Just a little bit of bite on defense. He's a smaller guard, but he's fast and it's a little bit easier for him to get through those ball screens."