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.
Former Kentucky guard Ed Davender, the only Wildcat with at least 1,500 points and 400 assists, has died. He was 49.
Guard Naz Mitrou-Long, whose 2015-16 season ended in December due to hip problems, has been granted a hardship waiver for the coming season, Iowa State said.
As the Sooners look to life without superstar Buddy Hield and his sidekicks, it's clear their unseasoned players will need to grow up fast.
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