Utah women's basketball: Utes ready for short-handed rival BYU
Women's basketball • Cougars will be without their 2 stars.
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The Utah women's basketball team is healthy, experienced and unbeaten.

And to remain perfect, all the Utes have to do Saturday is beat a .500 team missing its two best players at home.

They don't expect it to be easy.

"Anytime you put a BYU team and a Utah team out there … even if it was water polo it's going to be a dogfight," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "People say it's just another game. It's not just another game. It's BYU."

The Utes are 7-0 for the first time since 2000-01 thanks to the outstanding play of junior forwards Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski. And the Cougars know they'll have their hands full trying to stop them Saturday afternoon at the Huntsman Center.

"Their two bigs are dominating right now," BYU point guard Haley Steed said. "Those two are a lot to handle. … They're kind of the heart and soul."

The Cougars are 4-4 after struggling with a tough five-game road trip early in the season. BYU will also likely be missing 6-foot-7 center Jennifer Hamson, who was playing for the school's volleyball team in the NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb., and sophomore guard Lexi Eaton, who was leading the team in scoring before suffering a season-ending knee injury Tuesday against Utah State.

"It's hard to replace a kid like that," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said of his star sophomore.

"But somebody always steps up when somebody goes down," said senior Ute point guard Iwalani Rodrigues.

For BYU, that could be Steed. The three-year captain has lost to Utah just once during her time in Provo.

Plouffe, an honorable mention All-American last year who is leading the team with 17.4 points per game, believes that is about to change.

"We have more confidence and chemistry on the court [this season]," she said. "I think we're ready to beat them."

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk —

BYU at Utah

P At the Huntsman Center

Tipoff • Saturday, 3 p.m.

Radio • 700 AM