For the past four weeks, the Colorado women's basketball team has had a busy schedule.

The 11th-ranked Buffaloes (8-0) have played two games per week since the season started on Nov. 12.

On Thursday night, the Buffs will get back on the court when they host Denver (1-7) at 7 p.m. Luckily for CU, it's the only game of the week.

"We've had a pretty tough last three weeks," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "Being able to get our legs back under us and mentally get focused (is good).

"And, our players are studying for final exams. We have a lot of things going on, so it's nice to be able to just have one game to focus this week."

The Buffs should be able to stay focused against the Pioneers. Although Denver has struggled this year, Lappe knows DU can be a tough opponent.

"We know that they keep getting better every single game," Lappe said. "They just played Colorado State really tight. It's a big game for both teams."

While Denver continues to get better, so have the Buffs. Lappe's goal has always been to have her team show improvement every day -- in practice and in games -- and so far they've done that.

CU's improvement began in the offseason, as it appeared to pick up where it left off a year ago.

"I feel like every year we've been here, we've started at a much higher level than we did the previous year," Lappe said. "That's what you should do, really, when you take over a program. The more years that you have more players on your roster that understand your style and the culture and those sorts of things, you should start at a higher level."


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As the season has gone along, the Buffs have improved in various areas, Lappe said.

"The things that we focus on are things we get better at, which is pretty common," she said.

In a Dec. 4 win at Wyoming, 63-59, the Buffs didn't play their best game, but Lappe said her team got mentally better as they learned how to battle through a tight game at the end. Then, on Saturday, CU beat Illinois, 79-56.

"Our last game against Illinois was the best defensive effort we've had, probably our best rebounding effort that we've had," she said. "Those are two things that I felt like needed to get better and continue to need to get better."

The progression continues as the Buffs look ahead to facing the Pioneers.

"We had a good day of practice (Tuesday) and to me, if you have good practices it shows consistency," Lappe said. "The more great practices you have, the more great games you're going to have and there's a direct correlation."

Notable

Senior guard Ashley Wilson (shoulder) will miss her third consecutive game. The Buffs are hoping she'll be ready to return before the start of Pac-12 Conference play on Jan. 3 at USC. ... CU has just three more games in December. After facing DU, the Buffs have eight days off before traveling to No. 7 Louisville on Dec. 21. After a holiday break, they will host Southern Utah on Dec. 29.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.

CU women's hoops preview

THURSDAY: The No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes (8-0) host the Denver Pioneers (1-7) in a 7 p.m. game at Coors Events Center in Boulder.

BROADCAST: Radio -- KKZN (760 AM), with Mark Johnson on play-by-play and Carol Callan providing color commentary. Online -- Pac-12.com.

STORYLINES: CU has won 32 consecutive regular season non-conference games, dating back to the 2010-11 season. ... In addition to being 11th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, the Buffs moved up to No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches' poll this week. ... The Buffs are 5-0 at home, with an average score of 84.2 to 59. ... CU won its last game, 79-56 against Illinois on Saturday. Brittany Wilson had seven points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in the win. ... The Buffs' Arielle Roberson was named Pac-12 player of the week after averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds last week. ... CU has six players averaging at least 8.8 points per game. ... CU leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense (allowing 58.2 points per game), scoring margin (plus-20.8), rebounding defense (31.8 per game) and rebounding margin (plus 12.2). ... In her last six games, CU's Jen Reese has connected on 68.9 percent of her shots (31 of 45), averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds during that time. ... DU has lost five in a row, including 86-78 against Colorado State on Sunday. ... DU's Kailey Edwards and Quincey Noonan are both graduates of Legacy High School in Broomfield.

KEY STAT: CU has held its opponents to just 35.1 percent shooting from the floor, including 25.7 percent from 3-point range. DU has struggled with its shooting, making just 40.3 percent of its shots.

COACHES: Linda Lappe is 72-37 in her fourth season at CU and 122-73 in her career. Kerry Cremeans is 15-24 in her second season at DU and for her career.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado -- G Lexy Kresl, 5-11, Jr. (10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg); G Brittany Wilson, 5-7, Sr. (11.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.3 apg); G Jasmine Sborov, 6-0, Jr. (8.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 apg); F Arielle Roberson, 6-2, So. (11.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg); C Rachel Hargis, 6-4, Sr. (5.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg). Denver -- G Kailey Edwards, 5-9, So. (13.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.3 apg); G Paige Bradley, 5-9, So. (11.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.0 apg); G Morgan Van Riper-Rose, 5-10, Jr. (11.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg); F Maiya Michel, 5-11, Sr. (5.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg); F Theresa Wirt, 6-0, Jr. (10.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg).

SERIES: CU leads the series 6-2, including 4-0 in Boulder. The Buffs beat the Pioneers 83-63 on Dec. 11, 2012, in Denver. Brittany Wilson had 19 points in that game.

UP NEXT: CU will visit No. 7 Louisville on Dec. 21.