Tigers Struggle in ACC Opener

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - On the day Clemson honored Oliver Purnell for his work with the United States Olympic basketball team, the Tigers' head coach could have used some of the talent he spent last summer coaching.

Purnell's first ACC game as Clemson's head coach got off to a slow start and went downhill in a hurry. Visiting Duke (10-1, 1-0) opened up a double-digit lead midway through the first half and never looked back Saturday, knocking off the Tigers 73-54 at Littlejohn Coliseum.

No doubt there are better days ahead for Purnell, whose early recruiting exploits have caught the attention of many of the national college basketball experts.

But the current edition of the Tigers (7-5, 0-1) is one which continues to struggle in crucial areas; they commit far too many turnovers, miss easy scoring opportunities and allow the opposition too many easy baskets.

Combine those factors against an average opponent and you're likely to struggle. Do it against No. 2 Duke and you don't have a chance.

"They (Duke) play great pressure defense, which we have struggled against during the course of the season," Purnell said. "We had some chances to get back in the ball game, but then we seemed to turn the ball over or give up easy second shots."

Clemson committed 16 turnovers, which led directly to 18 Blue Devil points. The Tigers shot an abysmal 38.5 percent (20-of-52) from the field, allowed Duke to score 38 of its points in the paint and turn 15 offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points.

Of Clemson's 32 missed shots, 18 came in the paint.

"We did a good job of driving to the basket and getting fouled," said Purnell. "But we have to come away with points and we have to commit less turnovers."

Daniel Ewing came off the bench to lead the Blue Devils with 19 points, while J.J. Redick added 17. Shelden Williams and Chris Duhon added 12 and 10, respectively.

Sharrod Ford topped Clemson with 12, Lamar Rice added 11 and Chey Christie 10.

The win was the 600th of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski's career.

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