You knew No. 6 BYU was in trouble against No. 11 seed Duquesne in the first two minutes of the 71-67 Cougar loss to the Dukes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Big 12 battle-tested BYU team, which lived through physical play this entire winter, found a new level of tough-nosed play. They ran into what became a bonafide football game with wrestling rules — only pins to the floor counted.

The picture wasn’t pretty. It was Texas Tech on replay.

But Thursday’s game is one that will stick in the heads of the team and its followers who expected another game in this year’s Big Dance.

BYU ranks No. 1 in NCAA history of appearances (31) without a Final Four appearance.

It just may be that if BYU wants to advance in the modern NCAA postseason in the face of continued off-line seeding against the NCAA’s own formula, they’d be better off facing a team that will play badminton with them instead of engaging in a street fight.

The Duquesne Dukes were skilled and intense fighters on the court. The Cougars were not.

3 keys to Duquesne’s 71-67 upset of BYU

Two minutes into the game, BYU’s starting point guard Dallin Hall was on the floor with a bloodied nose after taking an elbow to the face trying to secure a rebound.

Hall left the game, but returned with pieces of gauze stuck in his nostrils, something you’d see in a technical knockout of a welterweight boxing match — you know, the one where the sweating fighter sits on the corner stool as a trainer swabs his face and checks if the blood has stopped flowing.

Seven minutes later, Richie Saunders hit the floor at midcourt, holding his face.

Just seconds into the second half, Noah Waterman, as tough of a Cougar as you’ll find, and Duquesne’s Fousseyni Drame came down with a rebound and wrestled one another to the floor where they continued to fight for the orb.

With no audible immediate whistle, they continued to fight and wrestle for possession, as two men refusing to give up the ball, knowing if they did, they couldn’t deploy half-nelson holds, reversals, choke holds and leg flips.

Elbows, however were deployed just after a whistled jump ball was called, leading to double technicals on Waterman and Drame. Coaches and referees ran onto the court to break up what could have become a bloodbath.

When Waterman stood back up on his two feet, he had red splotches on his cheek and forehead and he was breathing as heavily as a WWE participant.

There were still 19 minutes and 40 seconds to play in the game.

BYU was not built for that kind of game.

In a game called differently, maybe. But not a no-holds-barred affair.

A finesse, execution-based, cutting, screen-setting passing team that plays a five-out offense most of the time was taken out of its routine, just like in the Big 12 tournament when they lost to Texas Tech.

This first big upset of the NCAA first round is a credit to Duquesne, winner of nine straight. Inspired by their retiring coach Keith Dambrot, players were pumped up by a gift of free sneakers from NBA legend LeBron James. The Dukes came to Omaha on a mission to seek and destroy.

They succeeded.

However, BYU had plenty of chances.

After falling behind by nine, Jaxson Robinson spurred a comeback and 21-20 lead in the first half. BYU later cut another Duke lead to three before giving up six-straight.

They then came back from 14 when they should have been carried off the court via ambulance.

With the game on the line, BYU tied the game at 60 on a Fouss Traore dunk with just over two minutes to play.

Robinson, who scored 25 points and was in the process of building up a hero résumé on national television, touched the ball just once in BYU’s final five possessions as Duquesne won the game by scoring at the line again and again.

BYU’s failure to somehow get Robinson more touches was a mystery. But the best bet is to credit Duquesne’s defense.

Also a factor was the ineffective offensive punch delivered by centers Traore (4 of 11 for 11 points) and Aly Khalifa (0 for 6, 0 for 4 from 3). But, again, credit Duquesne.

The Dukes came in with a reputation for clawing opponents into submission and for disruption. They forced rushed shots and got into the heads of their foes.

For most of this game, Duquesne set up lawn chairs and coolers in the heads of Cougar players. All that was left was to wait for the final score.

In a rare occurrence, BYU shot over 33% from the 3-point line (8 of 24) and lost. If they’d made 10 or 11, they may have pulled this one out.

But this game was won by Duquesne in the margins and the Dukes imposed their will on the Cougars from the opening tip.