"I thought Sterling was the difference in the game," Boilers coach Matt Painter said.
Shooting inconsistency had plagued Carter all season, a problem considering he transferred from Seattle to help the perimeter attack. Shooting just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc — he was 3-for-22 in his previous eight games — had left him an offensive liability.
Not on Saturday night. He was 5-for-6 on three-pointers and scored Purdue's first 10 points of the second half. That was huge given he hadn't scored more than 13 points in any game for the Boilers and hadn't scored at all in last weekend's loss at Ohio State.
"It was just playing basketball," he said. "I was real comfortable. I was in rhythm and playing hard. My shots started to fall, so why not keep shooting."
His teammates noticed.
"He's not from Indiana and this was his first game in this rivalry and he showed out," freshman forward Basil Smotherman said. "I was proud to see him never let up. In practice he's always saying give it your all. That's what he did."
Added guard Terone Johnson: "Him playing like that is very important. We look at him not only as a person who can knock down shots at crucial times, but also a person who can defend the other team's best player. He did a heck of a job on Yogi."
That would be Yogi Ferrell, Indiana's high-scoring point guard. Carter's defense was a highlight for Painter.
"Sterling has done the best defensive job of our guards," he said. "He pried his way (into the starting lineup). The difference today is he made shots. It looks better.
"He's had good looks before and not consistently made them. Tonight he did. He really gave us a boost."
The Boilers also boosts of 16 points from Ronnie Johnson and 14 from Terone Johnson. They are 15-10 overall, 5-7 in the Big Ten.
In the second half, the Boilers reached a 20-point lead for the first time since their Dec. 17 79-50 win over Maryland Eastern Shore. In fact, they hadn't had a double-figure lead since.
The Hoosiers continue to stumble toward a dismal finish to what had once been a promising season. They've lost four of their last five games to fall to 14-11 and 4-8.
They shot just 32.2 percent, their second-worst performance in the last three years after the 25 percent disaster against Northwestern a few weeks ago.
"Offensively, we got great shots, normal shots that we would take," Ferrell said. "Some of them just didn't fall."
That includes the 12 missed layups.
"Some of them were point-blank layups," coach Tom Crean said. "We just missed them. The basket didn't move. We just missed layups."
Ferrell led IU with 27 points, but was just 6-for-17 from the field. Noah Vonleh, who played just 24 minutes because of foul trouble, had 14 points and six rebounds. Will Sheehey had 10 points, none in the second half.
Purdue squeezed the life out of IU's offense to end the first half and start the second. The Hoosiers went nearly 10 minutes without a field goal in that stretch. That was part of a 21-3 run that ended IU's four-game winning streak in the series.
Purdue opened with hot shooting, hitting five of its first six shots. IU opened with yet another turnover flurry. Still, the Boilers, who had their own turnover issues, couldn't build a lead beyond eight, at 16-8.
The Hoosiers surged back behind Sheehey. They had a 10-0 run to push ahead 27-22. Purdue rallied behind Terone Johnson's hot shooting. He overcame more free throw woes to finish the half with 12 points.
Smotherman made a big end-of-half impact with a free throw and then a putback off his missed second free throw to give the Boilers a 38-33 halftime lead.
Carter instantly asserted himself to start the second half with a three-pointer and a two-pointer for a 43-33 Purdue lead. He kept scoring, and so did the Boilers.
They went up 51-34, and the rout was on.
Perspective, however, wasn't lost. Not with Michigan State coming to Mackey Arena on Thursday.
"It's still one game at a time," Carter said. "We're 0-0 now and we have Michigan State next. That will be our mentality for rest of the season."
Up nextTipoff: Michigan State at Purdue, 7 p.m., Thursday