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January 12, 2014
Carter provides 'difference'; Nebraska notebook
Sterling Carter often talks about the "sacrifice" he made to leave his hometown of Seattle and come cross country to Purdue for his final year of eligibility, leaving behind a newborn daughter.
And though his three-point shot has been on an uptick after a slow start, Carter still hadn't really been making his presence felt frequently enough in his only season with the Boilermakers.
But a short trip home over the break gave him some clarity, thanks to his family.
"They told me I didn't look like I wanted to be out there or I didn't have that mentality that I normally have when I played back in Seattle," Carter said. "So I looked myself in the mirror and found myself and just brought more energy. Playing with these guys is a great opportunity, and I just had to realize that and get back to my old ways."
That's been noticeable of late, in a season-high 21 minutes at Minnesota on Jan. 5 and especially in the second half of Purdue's 70-64 victory over Nebraska on Sunday in Mackey Arena.
Against the Cornhuskers, Carter had eight points, seven rebounds, an assist and a steal in the second half. He made two of his three shots and three of four three throws.
"I thought Sterling Carter was huge," Coach Matt Painter said. "He once again was really good defensively and he got some long rebounds for us, had seven defensive rebounds. That's probably the difference in the game. A.J. (Hammons) had a good game, but (Carter) was probably the difference coming off the bench."
Carter's seven rebounds actually led the Boilermakers, the second time the 6-foot guard says he's led a team in rebounding in a game but the first at Purdue.
He gathered most of them by simply outracing other players to loose balls - the kind of hustle Painter desperately wants from his guards especially - but he also went up in traffic and snatched a couple.
But he also was solid on offense, not committing any turnovers and scoring a crucial layup off a nice cut to the rim with 2:15 to play to give Purdue a five-point lead.
Carter was such a factor, he played the last 12:26 of the game, a rare feat for the ever-changing Purdue lineup this season.
"If anybody is in a bad spot, the position that he plays, he's in there with a guy who has the most experience for us (in Terone Johnson). So it's hard for (Carter)," Painter said. "Sterling's not a point, and Terone's not a point so when you play them all together, you're really small. When you get up against big wings, it's a tough task.
"But with that being said, he's proving right now, in the last couple of games, we're better with him in there than not. That's what you want to do as a player, you just want to get a string of consistency together and you want to force your coach's hand. I thought he did some good things, had seven rebounds, played good defense, but he didn't turn the ball over. It's across the board, and things like that win games."
In the three games leading into Nebraska, Simpson played 15 total minutes, partly because of ineffectiveness.
But maybe Simpson's effort Sunday will provide the spark for a strong finish.
In relief of starter Hammons, who had a team-high 18 points and four blocks, Simpson had seven points, two rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes against the Cornhuskers.
In the final two minutes of the first half, Nebraska coach Tim Miles said Simpson was "critical" when the redshirt freshman made a basket from the post and a three-pointer.
"You usually figure, OK, the backup center is going to come in, let's do a good job on him and he shouldn't kill us. He might get a hoop there or an offensive rebound there, but he really did a nice job all game," Miles said.
Of Simpson's seven field goal attempts, most came from the post, and that's exactly what Painter has been pleading for.
"(The) last couple times when he had opportunities to score against Ohio State and Minnesota, he shoots a fadeaway. It sours everybody, especially myself, because he has the ability to go right at people," Painter said. "We always talk about getting two feet in the paint and going at them, making them guard you at the rim. He's got some ability and some skills, so he thinks it's going to be like a grab bag - he's going to get 18 shots and have seven different moves. We want him to play smashmouth basketball and go right after people. He did that (Sunday) a couple times."
For the third consecutive game, Painter started the same starting lineup, going with Hammons, Terone Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Basil Smotherman and Rapheal Davis.
Hammons tied a season high with 18 points, making 6-of-9 shots and 6-of-7 free throws, and he did it in only 22 minutes.
Purdue avoided its first 0-3 start in Big Ten play since the 2005-06 season.
Carter took a charge, making it seven drawn this season by the Boilermakers and continuing the streak of none taken from a returning player.
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