Missouri had nine Tigers combine for 13 steals in Wednesday night's 92-63 win over the Colorado Buffaloes. This brought their season total to an NCAA-leading 314, an average of 11.2 per game. In the 14-year history of the Big 12, four teams have recorded 300 steals in a season (Kansas seven times, Missouri three times, Nebraska twice, and Oklahoma). Only the '06-'07 Tigers (10.1), '08-'09 Tigers (10.2) and '98-'99 Cornhuskers (10.9) averaged double-digit steals. While equaling that achievement appears to be in sight for this year's squad, it's not going to be easy. Towards the end of the season as underclassmen have adjusted to their opposition and games tend to carry more weight, teams focus on controlling the ball better. Last year in postseason play (three Big 12 and four NCAA tournament games), the Tigers were well under their season number, recording a 7.6-steal-per-game average in the seven games, which is a reflection of the quality competition the Tigers faced late in the season, not the effectiveness of their defense. With Wednesday's 13 steals, the Tigers two year total (702) currently ranks 3rd all-time in the conference behind Kansas' 2006-08 (706) and 2001-03 (730) totals. But does this success on defense translate to wins? In the history of the Big 12 the school that has led the league in steals averages a third place finish in the conference. The lowest being 2000-01 Baylor's eighth place finish, while five times the leader in steals has won the conference.
In the four years Mike Anderson has coached Missouri, the Tigers have amassed 1,263 steals (302, 259, 388, 314). The best four-year total in Big 12 history currently belongs to the Tigers' border rival. From 2005-09, the Jayhawks racked up 1,268 steals (323, 350, 356, 239). With three regular-season games and postseason play looming, it is safe to assume Mizzou, under Mike Anderson's "Fastest 40 Minutes" philosophy, will become the most successful thieves the Big 12 has seen.