It has been nine years since the Colorado women's basketball team last played in the NCAA Tournament.

With an 18-5 record and No. 21 national ranking this season, the Buffaloes look like they've got the recipe to end that drought.

Yet, the Buffaloes (7-5 in Pac-12 play) still have six games to play in the regular season, plus the Pac-12 Tournament in early March, so they aren't quite ready to talk about the NCAA carrot dangling in front of them.

"That's just not in our mind," junior guard Brittany Wilson said. "The only thing that's in our mind is our next weekend and who we have to beat."

Head coach Linda Lappe was a part of three NCAA Tournament teams as a player at CU in the early 2000s, but she insisted this year's team isn't concerned with the big dance, even though the first round will take place on CU's home floor in Boulder.

"At no point have we ever focused on the NCAA Tournament, so we're not going to start now," she said.

The Buffaloes have earned their 18-5 record by not getting ahead of themselves. They have been much better than in past years at focusing on the task at hand.

"Every year we've had the experience where we played really well for a certain stretch and then it's fallen apart," senior captain Meagan Malcolm-Peck said. "I think this year there's a real focus on every day controlling what you can control and focusing on that specifically. I think (senior point guard Chucky Jeffery) and I do a really good job of communicating that to people.


"Everyone really understands that day to day you have to work hard to get better and everything is going to kind of come naturally if we do what we can control and we focus on getting better every day."

Of course, the Buffs are human so they know very well that the prospect of playing in the NCAA Tournament is a very real one at this point. This is the best team CU has had in nearly a decade and there's a very good chance that the Buffs will be on the Coors Events Center court for the first round of the tournament on March 23.

"Oh yeah, absolutely," Malcolm-Peck said. "It was the same thing in the beginning of the season with the potential to get ranked, since that's never happened before (during her career). It was so exciting for that to happen.

"Obviously that's a big dream of Chucky and I to get to the NCAA Tournament. Since that's there, it's hard not to focus on it."

At the same time, Malcolm-Peck and the Buffs have been "mature about it," she said, and realized that the best way to get to the NCAA Tournament is to take care of business every day.

The next step in that regard comes Friday night when the Buffs visit Arizona (11-12, 3-9). The Buffs thumped the Wildcats on Jan. 20 in Boulder, 79-36, but know they have to be prepared for a battle this time.

"We're going to have to be ready to play our best," Lappe said. "We don't take road games for granted. We know there's always adversity and challenges that we have to be ready for.

"We just have to stay focused, and we have to understand what it took to (beat Arizona) the first time. If we understand that and we're ready to put forth the work that it took the first time, then I feel good. We can't take games for granted at this point in the year."

CU has put a major emphasis on achieving success in February. That has been an unkind month to the Buffs in recent years. They went 1-6 in February last year and 6-22 over the last four years. They haven't had a winning record in February since going 5-2 in 2003.

So far this month, the Buffs are 3-1.

"It's the middle of February and we all know we've got to get these games in February," Wilson said. "That's been our weak point and this year we're looking to turn it around and get those important wins in February."

Malcolm-Peck on the mend

Malcolm-Peck has missed the last three games and four of the past six with an injury to her shoulder. She likely won't play this weekend against Arizona and Arizona State, either.

"It's getting better; just working through it," she said.

Malcolm-Peck is not practicing at full strength yet, but said "maybe next week."

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CU women's hoops preview

FRIDAY: The No. 21 Colorado Buffaloes (18-5, 7-5 Pac-12) visit the Arizona Wildcats (11-12, 3-9) in a 7 p.m. game at the McKale Center in Tucson.

BROADCAST: Radio -- KKZN (760 AM), with Mike Rice on play-by-play. Online --

STORYLINES: CU has won three in a row, sweeping Oregon and Oregon State last weekend.