The Dagger - NCAAB

A neutral-court loss to Duke is the only blemish on fifth-ranked Kansas State's resume so far this season, so the Wildcats aren't pleased at the backlash they've received from fans in the wake of a series of narrower-than-expected victories.

Senior Jacob Pullen spoke up via Twitter on Saturday evening, lashing out at message board posters who criticized the Wildcats for playing down to their competition in an eight-point road win at Loyola Chicago earlier that day.

It's understandable if Pullen is sensitive to criticism, but he should know better than to lash out at fans like that. The price of elevating Kansas State's program from Big 12 also-ran to Final Four contender is that fans and media are going to examine not just whether you won but whether you did so impressively enough.

And in all fairness to Kansas State fans, there have been some legitimate red flags despite the Wildcats' 9-1 start.

Pullen's field-goal percentage (40.6) and 3-point percentage (.333) are down so far this season, as is his assist-to-turnover ratio since taking over point guard duties from the now-graduated Denis Clemente. Forwards Curtis Kelly and Wally Judge have each missed games for undisclosed disciplinary and personal issues. And the Wildcats missed 14 free throws, got beat to loose balls and got out-rebounded 45-38 in their narrow win over Loyola on Saturday.

It won't take long to find out whether those issues are ones that should cause fans longterm concern or not.

Kansas State's next two games are against Florida and UNLV. If Pullen and company really want to silence their critics, winning those two should suffice.

(Thanks, Rush the Court)

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