You probably didn’t know that Cyclones’ defensive improvement (14.7 ppg) is second-best in Big 12 history

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So much of the pre-season dialogue about the 2011-12 Cyclone men’s basketball team centered on the transfers becoming eligible and who would play point guard.

The other topic Coach Fred Hoiberg addressed – but no one really paid attention to – was the need to get better on defense.

In Hoiberg’s first season as coach, the Cyclones were a surprising third in the Big 12 in scoring offense (72.2) but last in defense (80.8). Iowa State was just the seventh school in league history to allow more than 80 points per game. Those seven teams were 50 games below .500 (a 31-81 record).

Iowa State has shaved 14.7 points off its per-game defensive average (conference games only) in year two for Hoiberg. Not coincidentally, the team is currently 8-5 in Big 12 play.

That dramatic turn-around has been underplayed. The improvement in defensive scoring average (from one season to the next) is the second-best in Big 12 history.

Texas allowed an all-time league worst 83.6 ppg in 1997-98 playing the up-tempo game favored by Tom Penders. The Longhorns were 6-10.

A year later, Rick Barnes took the reins of the program and UT allowed a league-low 60.3 points per game on the way to winning the Big 12 championship. The 23.3-point improvement is the best in Big 12 history.

The current Cyclones likely won’t set any records for defense this season, but the nearly 15-point improvement has been an overlooked foundation for the team’s success.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

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