Scott Martin began his collegiate career as a prized recruit at Purdue. Now, the Notre Dame senior wants his current school to continue its recent success by beating his old one.
Facing the Boilermakers for the first time since leaving West Lafayette more than four years ago, Martin looks to help the No. 22 Fighting Irish to a seventh consecutive victory Saturday at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis.
Part of a talented freshman class with Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson dubbed the "Baby Boilers," Martin averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds to help Purdue finish second in the Big Ten in 2007-08. However, Martin apparently didn't feel comfortable in coach Matt Painter's system and transferred to Notre Dame after one season.
He sat out the 2008-09 season, then missed 2009-10 with a torn ACL. Now 24, Martin has started all 74 games he's played at Notre Dame, and though he never blossomed into the star recruiters felt he could be, Martin is a team leader and a valuable role player as the Irish remain one of the nation's steadiest programs.
While Martin has some extra incentive to play well Saturday, the 6-foot-8 guard insists his only focus is helping Notre Dame (8-1) remain undefeated since a 79-70 overtime loss to Saint Joseph's on Nov. 16.
"It has been a long time since I played for (Purdue)," said Martin, who averages 8.9 points with career highs of 7.5 rebounds and 45.2 percent shooting from 3-point range. "I play for Notre Dame, and I am really excited to get out there and try to get a win."
While these prominent Indiana basketball powers have split their previous 40 meetings, this is the first since Notre Dame's 71-59 win March 17, 2004, in the NIT. Though Purdue (4-5) has struggled, Martin and the Irish expect to be challenged in the back end of a doubleheader that opens with top-ranked Indiana facing Butler.
"It is really Indiana basketball at its finest," said Martin, an Indiana native who is 9 of 17 from beyond the arc in his last three games.
Martin scored a season-high 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the Irish's 84-57 win over Brown last Saturday. Notre Dame has beaten its last six opponents by an average of 18.6 points and held them to 56.7 per game.
"We are going to have to sustain this throughout the season," said guard Jerian Grant, who is averaging 15.7 points in the last three games and 8.0 assists in the last four. "Being consistent and playing well is definitely going to be big for us."
Freshman Cameron Biedscheid scored a season-high 17 points off the bench against Brown, and could see more time Saturday if 6-10 sixth man Garrick Sherman misses a second straight game with a knee injury. The 6-7 Biedscheid has averaged 12.3 points and gone 11 of 18 from 3-point range in the last four games.
"I've just really been stepping up and knocking the shots down," he said.
Purdue has had major trouble making baskets, ranking near the bottom of the Big Ten with 66.6 points per game on 41.6 percent shooting. Losers in two of their last three, the Boilermakers hope they hit rock bottom last Saturday when they shot 29.8 percent in a 47-44 loss at Eastern Michigan.
"(These losses) have to affect us for the better," said Purdue guard and Indianapolis native Terone Johnson, who averages a team-leading 13.0 points. "We can't keep getting a win here or a win there if we want to play at a high level."