TEMPE, Ariz. — Perhaps more than anyone else, Cedric Martin mirrors Utah's road woes this season. The junior college transfer's numbers are dramatically better in the Huntsman Center than outside of it.
In Pac-12 play, Martin is averaging 12.3 points, 5 rebounds and 2.1 assists at home. On the road, his stats dip to 3.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists. His shooting percentage also declines, dropping from 51.1 percent to 22.7 percent.
The drastic differences correlate with the Utes' 5-7 record at home and their 0-11 mark at road and neutral sites this season.
The lack of consistency doesn't sit well with Utah coach Larry Kystkowiak.
"The good teams and the good players have everything dialed in to where they can take whatever it is they do and they're not affected by road play," he said as the Utes prepare for games at Arizona State on Thursday and Arizona on Saturday.
At 5-18 overall and 2-9 in conference play, Utah is obviously a work in progress in Krystkowiak's first season at the helm. As such, he's not getting overly excited about Martin's consistent showings last week against Oregon (15 points) and Oregon State (19 points).
"It's a start. Consistency is more than a weekend," Krystkowiak said while noting that it's an ongoing process. "You never really hit a point where you go 'you know what, you're consistent enough' because it's always about the next game."
That's what the Utes are striving for, he added.
Martin has gotten the message.
"Ced's put in the work," said teammate Jason Washburn. "He's put in the time. I'm real proud of him and happy for him."
Although Martin is the only player other than Washburn to start every game this season, his rise to prominence has taken a little time since transferring to Utah from Lee College in Baytown, Texas.
"At the beginning, I think Cedric kind of struggled as a player. He wasn't putting up the numbers he felt he could, wasn't putting up the numbers Coach thought he would," Washburn recalled. "I remember right before our two wins over Portland and Idaho State (in mid-December), he came in and was shooting just a ridiculous amount of shots before and after practice. As you can see the guy is a 3-point machine now."
Martin is shooting better than 40 percent from behind the arc, connecting on 48.4 percent (30 of 62) of his attempts at home.
"I'm so used to these rims. I put up a good 3-point percentage here," Martin said. "And when I get on the road I can't quite do the same thing. It's not a physical thing, it's more of a mental thing."
And a thing, he added, he's trying to get out of the back of his mind.
"I need to bypass that," said Martin, who is in the process of trying to just play the game and not think too much about his shot on the road. "That's what I need to go out there and do."
Martin, a former Minnesota high school star, acknowledges he's getting more comfortable and learning his role with the team. Utah's second-leading scorer is attacking the basket with increased regularity and proving to be more than just a 3-point shooter.
Martin said he's working to expand his game in an effort to do whatever he can to help the team be more successful.
"He's really coachable. He wants to get better," Krystkowiak said, while noting Martin has some individual skills to work on this summer. "He's a guy who usually doesn't make the same mistake twice. He kind of gets locked in and is able to move on to the next thing. So I think the learning curve for him is getting a lot easier to deal with. He's working his tail off."
Martin is doing so while battling plantar fasciitis, an inflammatory foot condition that makes it difficult to even walk at times.
"There's a lot of guys that wouldn't be practicing and playing with his foot deal," Krystkowiak said. "So he's kind of a warrior."
And one, he continued, that has come as far as anybody on the team in terms of figuring things out. Krystkowiak noted that the "sky's the limit" for the 6-foot-4, 200-pound swingman.
Martin is motivated to succeed. He's hopeful his education and/or basketball skills will help his hard-working father, Cedric Martin Sr., fulfill a dream of opening a restaurant some day.
"My dad has been a working man for a long time," Martin said, while noting that his namesake puts in long hours as head of security at a hospital to provide for others. "We haven't had a lot of time to spend with him because he's always at work."
Martin's junior college scholarship didn't include food, so his father provided money each week so he could eat. Martin's sister and brother have also been cared for.
"So it's about time somebody does something for him," Martin said.
The elder Martin, however, has different dining tastes than his son. He eats things like oysters and pickled pigs feet that the youngster opts to pass on.
"I can't do that," Martin said. "But other than that he's a good cook."
While apart, however, the younger Martin is focusing on basketball. He's enjoying his tenure with the Runnin' Utes.
"The Pac-12 is fun, a lot of competition," he said. "We need to size up our competition and play better than they do."
Home and away.
Utes on the air
Utah (5-18, 2-9)
at Arizona State (7-16, 3-8)
Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. MT
Radio: 700 AM
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @DirkFacer