But it all didn't hang on how well Duke played. Purnell said the 18-point halftime deficit could have been a lot worse.
"We had some bad shot selection and some turnovers," he said during the first ACC Coaches Teleconference on Monday.
The roaring second half start by Clemson came thanks to turnovers caused by lots of pressure in the press. As the half went on, Purnell thought the defense began to open up.
"We got it down to eight, down to seven, and then our defense got a little porous," he said. "Actually, our defense in the first half wasn't too bad. We got our pressure going. Our half-court defense didn't make stops when we had to make those."
Including the 70-67 win over South Carolina State, Purnell believes Clemson hasn't played particularly well in three of its last four halves, lacking what he calls a complete game.
"What I mean by that: defending and playing efficiently on the offensive end of the floor," he said. "We need to get that corrected this week in practice, just in terms of playing better, and trying to get an ACC win.
"It's not the end of the world, when you go on the road and lose at Duke, but we would have liked to of played much better in the first half."
Clemson (12-3, 0-1 ACC) next hosts Boston College (9-5, 1-0 ACC) this Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 4 p.m. and is being televised on Raycom.
And if the Tigers are to pick up their first conference win, Purnell wants to see more players in the rotation contributing. Not just a few, which was the case Sunday.
Demontez Stitt scored a team-high 17 points. Trevor Booker scored 10 points, but missed seven of his 11 shots. Jerai Grant went 3-of-4 from field and hit 5-of-7 free-throws to score 11. The rest of the team managed to score just 15.
Conversely, Duke's three high scorers: Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith scored 22, 16 and 22, respectively. The rest of the Blue Devils had 14 points.
"We're a team that needs eight or nine guys playing well for you, at the end of the night, to say we played well, because of the way we play," Purnell said.
Where Clemson's "bread is buttered" on offense is dumping the ball inside before working it back outside along the perimeter. Purnell said that's where the wings need improve from Sunday's loss.
David Potter, Tanner Smith and Noel Johnson combined to shoot 4-of-16 from the field and 2-of-10 from behind the 3-point line.
"When the ball comes back to your perimeter guys, particularly your wings, they've got to make good decisions," Purnell said. "We've done it much better at times. We're going to have to do it much better, in order to have success."
Purnell wants better shots, decisions
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