TaShawn Thomas added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cougars (10-9, 2-4 Conference USA), who snapped a four-game losing streak and dealt the Pirates (9-9, 0-5) their fifth straight defeat.
Houston led 74-50 after a Simmons fast-break layup with 7:46 to play. What followed was a 25-2 ECU run, capped by a Robert Sampson jumper that cut the lead to 76-75 with 2:23 left. But ECU went 0 for 6 from the field after that, and a Miguel Paul free throw was the Pirates' last score of the game. Houston made four free throws in the final 1:12 to secure the win.
ESPN's Dan Dakich joins The Paul Finebaum Show to discuss the SEC's presence in the NBA Draft.
Ted Kapita was the top-rated recruit from West Virginia in the class of 2015 and recently played at DME Academy in Florida.
With the Suns drafting Tyler Ulis, they now have five guards on their roster who attended Kentucky.