It's a crucial week four Summit League road trip for South Dakota State, as the Jackrabbits try to get back above .500 at the halfway point of the league schedule, with games at Denver and South Dakota.

The defending regular season and conference tournament champs start play this week 2-3, tied for fifth in the eight team league.

It's been a struggle for the Jacks on defense lately, as teams are shooting a league-best 47 percent against them. In all three of their conference losses, SDSU has allowed 80 points or more.

The other issue for this year's team has been trying to fill the biggest void left from last year's team, with the graduation of point guard Nate Wolters.

Head coach Scott Nagy told me that developing the back court is still a work in progress; and so is keeping the confidence level of his team up heading into this week:

BROOKINGS, SD - JANUARY 25: Marcus Heemstra #32 from South Dakota State University battles for the rebound with Taylor Braun #24 from North Dakota State University in the first half of their game Saturday afternoon at Frost Arena in Brookings. (Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

Against NDSU last Saturday, the Jacks allowed the best shooting team in the nation to hit 56 percent of their shots, 53 percent from behind the three-point arc, while letting the Bison control the boards, finishing plus 10 in rebounding.

SDSU did their part offensively to stay in it, hitting 50 percent from the floor, and knocking down 10 three-pointers.

Coach Scott Nagy says that kind of production should win games:

This week starts with something new: the Jackrabbits first Summit League trip to Denver, where the Pioneers have one of the top all-around players in the league in Chris Udofia, who not only scores 12 points per game, but also pulls down six rebounds, has three steals and two blocked shots a game, for a team that will slow it down on offense like Western Illinois, but does a lot of other things differently than the Leathernecks:

Tipoff is 8:00pm CST Thursday in Denver.