The Golden Eagles (14-2) never trailed, but had to fight off a late East Carolina rally sparked by Pirates forward Darrius Morrow, who scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the second half.
Southern Miss won the rebounding battle 35-25, including three out of the four rebounds after the 1:28 mark in the second half when East Carolina (9-5) was making its push.
Miguel Paul scored 19 for East Carolina, including a final free throw that pulled the Pirates within two with 2.8 seconds left, but Pelham rebounded his second shot and cleared it out as time expired.
Mississippi State freshman guard Malik Newman will withdraw from the NBA draft, but sources told ESPN he might explore other opportunities besides returning to Mississippi State.
Seton Hall sophomore Isaiah Whitehead will stay in the NBA draft and not return for his junior season.
Washington State's trio of Josh Hawkinson, Conor Clifford and Ike Iroegbu have withdrawn from the NBA draft and will play their senior season with the Cougars.
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