SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was a happy man Tuesday night.
"To be 3-1 on Jan. 10 in the Big East," he said, "I am ecstatic."
Scott Martin recorded his second straight double-double to lead the Fighting Irish (11-6, 3-1) to a 60-49 victory over South Florida (9-8, 2-2).
Brey said the workmanlike performance might be the way his club plays for the rest of the season.
"One of the things we talked about was playing well two games in a row in the Big East," he said. "We played well against Pittsburgh, and then we were not very good at Cincinnati.
"So the question was: Could we handle some success Saturday at Louisville and then come back and do what you have to do to win a grinding league game? I think our defense was outstanding tonight, and our poise was great."
Martin scored 15 points and added 13 rebounds to lead his team to its 29th straight home win. Jack Cooley was the game's leading scorer leading scorer with 16, while Jerian Grant added 14. Augustus Gilchrist scored 13 and Jawanza Poland 12 for the Bulls.
"The ball went in," Martin said of his resurgence after some below-par play earlier in the season. "So that's always good. When you make some shots, you feel better and you make more shots.
"In addition, we have really made it a point to rebound well. In order to beat these teams, you have to rebound. And since I'm down there, I might as well go grab it."
Brey said Martin's performance against Louisville "jump-started him. Now he is really rebounding the ball. He's confident. He's feeling good. I hope he can keep being a double-double guy the rest of the way."
Notre Dame shot 48 percent and 5 for 14 on 3-pointers.
Notre Dame got off to a 6-0 edge and never trailed despite sloppy play on both sides. The Irish used a 14-0 run late in the second half that included two three-point plays by Grant to put the game away.
"My shots have not been falling like I want them to," Grant said. "Driving to the basket is one way I can get my shots as well as get my teammates involved. The coaches have told me to take open shots and create for my teammates and create for myself."
The Bulls hit 38 percent from the floor. They normally shoot 31 percent from 3-point range but went just 1 for 13.
"I thought we had some really good looks, especially in the first half," coach Stan Heath said. "We just did not knock them down.
"I think the only guy who made a 3 was Gilchrist. So we had our center making the only 3 for the night. It was obviously not a good shooting performance, and it definitely took a lot away from our offense."
Both teams looked sloppy in the opening moments. With 9 minutes gone, the score was just 8-8, and both teams were shooting 4 for 12 (33 percent).
Then Notre Dame got hot from beyond the arc, beginning with a 3-pointer by Martin, and forged a 20-14 lead with 6:35 to go. They later ran off a 6-0 spurt, capped by a 3-pointer by Pat Connaughton with 3:26 left, for a 26-18 lead.
The half ended with the Irish ahead 30-24.
The sloppy play continued early in the second half, as both teams missed makable shots and had unforced turnovers. Gilchrist scored his team's only 3-pointer with 10:08 to go, pulling South Florida within 38-35.
That set up Notre Dame's game-deciding 14-0 run.
Notre Dame entertains UConn on Saturday, while South Florida will host Seton Hall on Friday night.