Star earns nickname after triple-overtime win at Utah State

The UNLV basketball team got into a rut with its shooting last week, but I'm certain they will get out of it.

They've played good defense all year, and as long as you play good defense, everything else will work out and you will have a good season. They just need to get their confidence back because they were shooting the ball so well earlier in the year.

I'm constantly asked who are the best players I coached at UNLV. Well, the best shooter I coached was Sam Smith in the 1970s. He was like Jimmer Fredette of BYU with unlimited range. Sam had great confidence in himself. No matter how difficult the shot was, his confidence never wavered.

Eddie Owens was our best mid-range shooter. He was just automatic from mid-range. Robert Smith and Tony Smith would be up there, too.

Freddie Banks was more of a streaky shooter, but he had more clutch buckets than anyone we ever had. That is why I gave him the nickname "Fearless Freddie."

I started calling him that after his freshman year when we beat Utah State, 142-140, in triple overtime on the road. Because of foul troubles, we had walk-ons playing by the end of the game, and forward Armen Gilliam was bringing the ball up the court. The five players on the floor were the only five I had left.

I remember their coach kept yelling: "Follow the freshman, follow the freshman." But Freddie kept making shot after shot, and made something like eight straight free throws in overtime. All of them were clutch, so I started calling him "Fearless Freddie" and it stuck the rest of his career.

That was the best chance Utah State had to beat us at their place. We had a lot of close game with Utah State, but we never lost in that town in 20 years.

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