Campus Corner

The best defensive players in the history of the Big 12

Nebraska’s Cookie Belcher (right) tried to steal the ball from Kansas State’s Kelvin Howell during a game in 2001.
Nebraska’s Cookie Belcher (right) tried to steal the ball from Kansas State’s Kelvin Howell during a game in 2001. The Associated Press

The 20th Big 12 Tournament begins Wednesday at the Sprint Center. We look back at the event’s two decades in a language familiar in basketball: Teams of honor. Here are the best defenders in league history.

Cookie Belcher, Nebraska (1996-2001)

By a margin of 70 career steals, Belcher is the Big 12 leader. He also set the season record with 102 swipes in 1998-99.

Chris Mihm, Texas (1998-2000)

He averaged 2.8 blocks per game over a three-year career and was a standout on the Longhorns’ 1999 Big 12 title team.

Russell Robinson, Kansas (2004-08)

Along with teammate Mario Chalmers, he was a three-team All-Big 12 defensive team selection. No backcourt disrupted passing lanes better than this one.

Jeff Withey, Kansas (2009-13)

The Big 12’s career shot-blocking leader, Withey ranks second in NCAA Tournament history (49), one behind Tim Duncan. Withey also set the record for most blocks (31) in a single NCAA Tournament.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (2012-14)

Smart was a very good offensive player but also a superior defender who holds the Big 12 career record with 2.9 steals per game.

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

Big 12 defensive records

Blocked shots

Game: 12, Jeff Withey, Kansas vs. San Jose State, 2012

Season: 146, Withey, 2013

Career: 311, Withey (2009-13)

Steals

Game: 10, Ivan Wagner, Texas vs. Texas A&M, 1999

Season: 102, Cookie Belcher, Nebraska, 1999

Career: 353, Belcher (1996-01)

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