Missouri basketball is among the best in stealing the ball in the SEC

Missouri basketball can take the ball away, but the Tigers also give it up at a high rate.

We already know the Missouri basketball team is really good at shooting free throws.

The Tigers rank first in the conference in free-throw percentage at 77.3 percent, and it’s probably going to go up the way Mizzou has been knocking them down the past four games.

But Missouri also is really good at playing defense. And in particular, the Tigers are picking up steals at a high rate.

Mizzou is third in the conference in steals with 148 total, tied with Ole Miss. The Tigers are getting 7.4 steals a game, which trails No. 1 Arkansas (8.6, of course) by about a steal per game. The Tigers are capable of getting steals from multiple players, especially Dru Smith.

The junior guard is No. 1 in the conference with 43 steals this season. He leads the SEC with 2.2 a game, tied with Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans. What is better about Smith’s numbers is that it is coming with fewer turnovers.

Besides Smith, Kobe Brown is in the top 20 in the SEC with 24 steals and Mark Smith is No. 40 in the conference with 18. Xavier Pinson is right behind Mark with 17 total takeaways.

Now, the Tigers easily could improve in this category. In terms of free throws, Mizzou is 13th in the country. With steals, Mizzou sits at 95, so while the Tigers are among the best in their conference, they aren’t quite elite at this skill. But they have the potential to be.

The Tigers are taking chances, and that risk also has hurt Mizzou. It ranks second in the conference right now in personal fouls. And unlike some of the teams that have the most fouls, Missouri isn’t getting many blocks, so it’s coming without much of a benefit.

One other stat has hurt the Tigers in SEC play — turnovers. Dru Smith has been able to play smart basketball, but others have not.

With the amount of steals the Tigers are gathering, it’d be nice to eliminate some of their mistakes. Mizzou is third in its amount of steals, yes, but the Tigers also are third in total turnovers with 285, 14.3 per game.