BYU coach Dave Rose vowed Thursday the Cougars will recover from twin challenges that put a damper on their standout season this week.
The third-ranked Cougars are reeling after leading rebounder Brandon Davies was kicked off the team Tuesday for violating the university's honor code. Then there was the ugly 82-64 loss to New Mexico on Wednesday -- the worst setback by a top-three team in six years.
BYU got a much-needed day off Thursday and Rose insisted his team would recover.
"This team has found ways to win games all year and I have all the confidence in the world we'll continue to do that," he said. "We'll get better. We'll find ways to deal with the loss of a player that we've relied on. We found ways to deal with the loss of Chris Collinsworth when he got knee surgery. We'll find ways to get around this."
The Cougars (27-3, 13-2 Mountain West Conference) had climbed the Top 25 by winning 17 of 18 behind player of the year favorite Jimmer Fredette. But that surge came to a crashing halt against New Mexico, which has won four straight against BYU.
"They played well and beat us," Rose said. "Now we're faced with a new challenge and that is to try to respond after we've been beat."
While BYU tries to get its season back on track, much of the focus has turned to the circumstances surrounding Davies' dismissal and the school's honor code. The Salt Lake Tribune has reported Davies violated the part forbidding premarital sex.
On Thursday, university officials and past stars from Danny Ainge to Ty Detmer defended the code.
"We live this. This is who we are," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. "Most people who come to this school -- hopefully all -- understand this is one of the reasons they come to BYU.
"We understand that people across the country might think this is foreign to them and they're shocked and surprised. But for us, we deal with this quite often. Obviously this situation, because of the timing and our team, brings a lot of attention. But we've handled everything exactly the same way we would have if there was no media."
Holmoe said making Davies' dismissal public was not an intent "to throw him to the wolves." But, he added: "We won't relax the honor code for a situation that has to do with a basketball player."
Former BYU quarterback Detmer told The Sporting News a few football players during his college days were dismissed for honor code violations. But he acknowledged current athletes probably face more scrutiny because of the Internet, and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Holmoe said all students know about the expectations before enrolling at BYU.
"Our coaches recruit to BYU with full disclosure," he said. "The student-athletes know about our honor code and the majority of them understand it before they come in. This is one of the reasons they choose BYU. It's not a negative for the majority of our students."
He said BYU will continue to recruit to its strength "and that is a strength."
Ainge, a former star guard for the Cougars, told Foxsports.com that people outside the Mormon religion who have criticized the decision are uninformed.
"People will ridicule it because they don't understand it," he said.
Ainge is president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics but also is a bishop in the Mormon Church and leads a congregation of about 400.
Davies apologized to his teammates for letting them down, and players said they would continue to support him.
An honor code review committee will decide whether Davies will be allowed to remain at BYU. University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said there is no set time period for a decision.
"There are no secrets here as to the environment that exists at BYU," she said. "But it's an environment our students choose. It's an environment they want to live in. And that is very much true for our student-athletes as well."
The code requires students to be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life, use clean language, abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and illegal substances, and attend church regularly.
Davies, by violating the code, cannot represent the school or play on the team, but he is allowed to be with his teammates on campus and watch practices.
"He's a part of the team. He's a valuable member of the team so he'll be around the team," Holmoe said.
Junior Charles Abouo, who averages 6.6 points for the Cougars, said the players will be there for Davies.
"He's a great friend, like a brother to me," Abouo said. "Everyone makes mistakes in their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with him. We're reaching out, trying to help him get through this."
As for the honor code, Abouo said there is no frustration with what happened, and the effect it may have on BYU's chances of going deep in the NCAA tournament.
As for pressure, nothing has changed even after absorbing the worst loss by a top-three team since No. 2 Kansas lost to Villanova by 21 points in 2005.
"You've got to move forward, stick with what we do," Abouo said.