Mistakes at practice haven't suddenly disappeared, and head coach Linda Lappe is no less accepting of those mistakes.

The No. 25 Colorado women's basketball team is ranked for the first time in Lappe's three seasons as head coach, but the Buffaloes (9-0) certainly aren't sitting back and relishing the moment.

"If anything, it's just going to fuel us," junior center Rachel Hargis.

On Saturday, the Buffs host Utah Valley (4-9) in their first game as a nationally ranked team in nearly four years.

"There's no difference," Lappe said. "It doesn't matter if we're ranked in the Top 25 or not in terms of our preparation and how hard we're going to work and level of intensity and all of those things.

"We're back to business as usual."

This is Lappe's first time coaching a nationally ranked team, but she's no stranger to being in the rankings. As a player at CU, Lappe and the Buffs were a Top 25 team quite often.

What she has impressed upon her team is that being ranked in the middle of December doesn't really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

"We're definitely a more mature team and I think that even the freshmen and the sophomores have really stepped up," Hargis said. "We all know that being ranked doesn't mean anything if you lose the next game."

Of course, the Buffs are enjoying it. For the juniors and seniors, cracking the Top 25 has been a three- or four-year journey, so it's not to be taken too lightly.


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"For us to be ranked, it's an honor," Hargis said. "We still have a long way to go, but we know we're on the right track and we can do things we haven't felt we could do in the past."

There wasn't a whole lot of time to enjoy the notoriety, though. The players have had to balance a lot this week.

In addition to the good vibes coming with the Top 25 ranking, the Buffs had to deal with finals. This week always makes coaches nervous, as they don't really know what to expect from their distracted players. But, after a few days off earlier this week, Lappe is convinced the Buffs -- most of whom were done with finals by Wednesday -- will come prepared against the Wolverines.

"I remember back when I was a player, it was tough to study and to get ready for practice, but the more veteran your team is the less you see finals affect your team," Lappe said. "That's what we expect from our team."

Utah Valley doesn't seem to pose much of a threat to the Buffs. The Wolverines were a junior college team just a decade ago, made the transition to NCAA Division I and didn't gain official NCAA Division I status until July of 2009. The Wolverines are just 37-67 in the past four seasons.

Not that any of it matters to Lappe. As far as she is concerned, the Wolverines are just as capable of winning Saturday's game as the Buffaloes. Her biggest concern, though, is making sure CU continues to show the improvement it has shown since the start of the season.

"Ultimately we're preparing to get better as a team," she said. "We're going to help each other get better more than any team we play right now. It's important that our players understand it doesn't matter who we play; we want to keep getting better. You can't do that if you don't practice hard and if you take teams for granted."

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.

SATURDAY: The No. 25 Colorado Buffaloes (9-0) host the Utah Valley Wolverines (4-9) in a 1:30 p.m. game at Coors Events Center in Boulder.

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

STORYLINES: CU entered the Associated Press Top 25 rankings this week for the first time in nearly four years. ... CU is off to just the fourth 9-0 start in program history. The previous starts of 9-0 or better resulted in postseason appearances. ... The Buffs have won 22 consecutive regular season non-conference games and are 29-4 in those games under head coach Linda Lappe. ... Through Thursday, CU was one of just seven undefeated teams in Division I. ... This is the second game of a six-game home stand that concludes Jan. 8. ... Utah Valley was the preseason favorite to win the Great West Conference. ... Wolverines' senior Sammie Jensen was the GWC player of the year in 2011-12 and the preseason favorite to repeat that honor. ... UVU will join the Western Athletic Conference next year.

KEY STAT: Colorado comes into the game with 699 wins in program history (699-450).

COACHES: Linda Lappe is 48-30 in her third season at CU and 98-66 overall. Cathy Nixon is 301-226 in her 18th year at UVU and for her career.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado -- G Chucky Jeffery, 5-10, Sr. (12.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.0 apg); G Brittany Wilson, 5-7, Jr. (9.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.6 apg); G Lexy Kresl, 5-11, So. (4.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg); F Arielle Roberson, 6-1, Fr. (16.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg); C Rachel Hargis, 6-4, Jr. (5.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg). Utah Valley -- G Cydne Gray, 5-6, Sr. (5.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg); G Alle Cardwell, 5-11, Sr. (7.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.7 apg); G Whitney Jenkins, 5-9, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.0 spg); F Sammie Jensen, 6-0, Sr. (17.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg); F Kaycee Mansfield, 5-10, Sr. (8.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

SERIES: This is the first meeting between the teams. Utah Valley is 1-5 all-time against the Pac-12, defeating Southern Cal on Dec. 5, 2008, in Hawaii.

UP NEXT: CU hosts New Mexico on Dec. 29.