- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Exhibition games are exhibition games for a reason. Drawing too many conclusions from an exhibition box score is a mistake. The real games are what counts, and the college hoops season is long enough that even early-season non-exhibition tests aren't quite the best barometer for figuring out how a team is going to perform throughout the season. Sample size, and all that.
Still, it's not unfair to toss a modicum of praise toward 2009-10 Division II champs Cal Poly Pomona. Why? Because the Broncos played 2009-10 Division I champ Duke -- the 2010-11 consensus preseason No. 1 and a team many expect to repeat their national title this season -- pretty tough last night.
When I glanced at the final score, an 80-61 Duke win, it looked unusually close for a Duke exhibition game against a D-II foe. Turns out, for most of the first half it was closer than that. Though their only lead came off the first possession, Cal Poly Pomona trailed by a mere six points at halftime, 39-33. Duke opened it up after the half -- perhaps Coach K's halftime speech was less than friendly -- going on a 34-10 run in the first 12 or so minutes of the second half. The Division I national champ did what Division I national champs do: They forced a ton of turnovers, got a bunch of easy buckets, and held an inferior team to three field goals during a breakaway run.
Still ... yes, it was just an exhibition. Yes, Duke dominated at will. But for 20 minutes, the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos played with a loaded defending national champion in Cameron Indoor Stadium. That might not deserve a standing ovation, but I think we can at least spare a golf clap.