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Iowa State hoping to improve after first-round NCAA tournament exit

Iowa State spent roughly two months digging itself out of a massive hole and somehow reaching last season's NCAA tournament. Its trip lasted just 40 ugly minutes.

The Cyclones should have an easier time getting back to the NCAAs in March. Whether they'll have enough to make a serious run remains to be seen.

Iowa State brings back its top three starters from last season's team, which recovered from an 0-5 start in Big 12 play to earn an NCAA tournament bid. But the Cyclones (18-13) were blown out at home by Green Bay 71-57 in the opening round.

Iowa State opens its 18th season under coach Bill Fennelly on Nov. 11 against Western Illinois.

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP