Thomas was 10 of 19 from the floor and also dished out seven assists for the Cougars (15-8, 4-6 Conference USA), who shot 55 percent from the floor and outrebounded UTEP 36-22. Jherrod Stiggers chipped in 13 points off the bench, and Joseph Young had 12.
Julian Washburn led the Miners (13-10, 6-4) with 17 points. UTEP had won four of the previous five meetings between the schools.
Houston never trailed after the opening minutes and led 43-29 at halftime. The Miners pulled within 66-58 on Washburn's fast-break layup with 6:12 to play, but the Cougars closed the game on a 13-3 run.
Houston was 9 of 13 from 3-point range, including 7 of 10 in the first half.
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