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Basketball: Iowa State University and the Big 12 Conference History

The Iowa State Cyclones are a member of the Big 12 Conference, which was founded in 1996. The Big 12 is one of the most competitive conferences in college basketball and has produced many great players over its history.
The Cyclones have won two national titles: one in 1944 and another in 1945 under head coach Hargus “Pig” Howard (1926-1947). They also won two conference championships during this period under Coach Howard: one in 1943 and another in 1946.


  • Iowa State has made 18 NCAA tournament appearances, most recently in 2016. The Cyclones’ first appearance was in 1945 when they lost in the first round to Oklahoma A&M (now known as Oklahoma State).
  • Iowa State won its first Big 12 Conference championship in 2000 and has since won a total of five conference titles: 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008.


The Cyclones have a long-standing rivalry with Kansas. The two teams have met 85 times, with Iowa State holding a slim lead in the series at 45-42. In fact, the Jayhawks have won seven of their last eight games against Iowa State.
Kansas has also been successful against Oklahoma State (19-5) and Texas Tech (16-5). However, they haven’t fared as well against other Big 12 teams such as Baylor (1-8), TCU (2-10) and West Virginia (2-11).

Notable Players

The Iowa State men’s basketball team has had a number of notable players throughout its history.
Notable players include:

  • Georges Niang–a forward who played for the Cyclones from 2012 to 2015 and was named a consensus second-team All-American in 2014. He was also named Big 12 Player of the Year that same year.
  • Monte Morris–a guard who played for the Cyclones from 2015 to 2018 and led them to their first Final Four appearance ever in 2017.
  • Royce White–a forward who transferred from Minnesota before playing his freshman season at Iowa State after being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). His mental health issues were widely covered by media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and Yahoo Sports during his time at both schools due to their relevance within professional sports culture today; specifically how athletes like White cope with mental illness while balancing their personal lives with professional careers


  • Johnny Orr: He played for the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s best known for his time at Iowa State. Orr led the Cyclones to two Final Fours and three Elite Eight appearances during his tenure from 1985-1992. He went on to become head coach of several teams in Europe before returning to Ames in 2009 as an assistant under Greg McDermott.
  • Tim Floyd: Floyd was head coach at Iowa State from 1994-1997 and led them to two NCAA Tournament appearances before leaving for Tulsa after being offered more money than what he had been making at ISU (he took over there). In 2001, he became head coach of Texas A&M where he won conference titles in 2002 and 2003 before leaving again due to allegations of academic fraud involving players on his team; this led him back home once again where he coached Drake University until 2012 when he retired from coaching altogether–but not without first helping lead DePaul University into its first Big East Tournament appearance since 2004!

Notable Games

Iowa State and Kansas have played each other three times in the last two seasons. The first game was in 2016, when Iowa State defeated Kansas 95-89 at home. The second game was in 2017, when Iowa State beat Kansas 86-76 on their home court (which happened to be Jayhawk territory). And finally, the third meeting occurred this past season when both teams were ranked in the top 10 of their respective conferences: Iowa State won 72-66 at Allen Fieldhouse–the Jayhawks’ home court–to take over first place in the Big 12 standings for themselves!
The Cyclones also have an interesting rivalry with Oklahoma University because they’re both located near each other on opposite sides of Interstate 35 highway which runs through Norman; however it’s not just proximity that makes them rivals–they’ve been competing against each other since 1907 when OU was known as Oklahoma A&M College (now known as Oklahoma State University). Their most recent matchup came during February 2018 where ISU beat OU 71 – 63 behind Deonte Burton’s 23 points off 8/12 shooting including 4/7 from 3 point range while Jordan Bohannon added 20 points himself while hitting 6/11 shots including 2/3 from beyond arc

Attendance Records

  • The largest crowd to ever attend a basketball game at Hilton Coliseum was 18,856 on March 10, 2011 against the University of Kansas.
  • The Big 12 Conference holds several attendance records. In 2012, it had three of the top five largest crowds in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history: 15th place (19,764), 14th place (19,742) and 13th place (19,728).

Notable Facilities

  • Hilton Coliseum: This is the home of Iowa State basketball, and it’s one of the most historic arenas in all of college sports. The Cyclones have won more games than any other team at Hilton Coliseum since it opened in 1971. It’s been renovated several times over the years, most notably in 2012 when a new video board was installed above center court.
  • Sukup Basketball Complex: This facility houses practice courts for both men’s and women’s teams as well as offices for coaches and staff members. It also has an indoor track where players can run sprints or do conditioning drills during inclement weather or offseason months when outdoor facilities aren’t available (like winter).
  • Big 12 Arena: Located just south of campus along Interstate 35E, this arena hosts many events throughout each year including concerts by nationally known artists such as Elton John, Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley; monster truck shows; rodeos; high school graduations…and even weddings!


It is impossible to overstate the impact that Iowa State has had on the Big 12. The Cyclones have been a member of this conference since its inception in 1996, and they’ve helped shape it into what it is today.
Iowa State’s basketball program has also been integral to their university as a whole. It’s one of the most successful programs in all of college sports–winning multiple NCAA championships, producing NBA stars like Fred Hoiberg and Jamaal Tinsley, and even being featured in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary (The Perfect Game). The team plays at Hilton Coliseum, which seats 15 thousand people; when you think about how many alumni live in central Iowa alone (not including surrounding areas), it’s easy to see why so many people come out every year to watch their favorite team play at home!

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