NCAA

Dolphins remain in playoff contention - barely

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Dolphins remain in playoff contention - barely

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) It might be easier for the Miami Dolphins to make the playoffs than to explain how it could happen.

Both tasks are daunting.

With two games left in the regular season, seven teams have a better record than Miami (6-8) in the AFC race for six playoff spots. The Dolphins have a 2.3 percent chance of earning a postseason berth, according to the web site MakeNFLPlayoffs.com.

Hey, it beats being mathematically eliminated. And it gives the Dolphins something to play for Sunday against Buffalo (5-9).

``I heard we're still in the hunt and still have a chance,'' safety Reshad Jones said Wednesday. ``It does kind of surprise me.''

The Dolphins have been above .500 for only one week all season. They recently lost five times in a six-game stretch, and they're ranked in the lower half of the league in both offense and defense.

Even so, they remain eligible. Barely.

``It's a crazy league,'' said rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who last week erroneously declared the Dolphins out of the playoffs. ``You see a strange situation every year. Anything can happen. We've just got to keep plugging away.''

Don't ask them to explain the sequence of results that would get them into the playoffs.

``I really have no idea,'' tight end Anthony Fasano said. ``I don't know what it takes. You control what you can control; no need to exert energy on other things.''

To have any chance at the postseason, the Dolphins must beat Buffalo and win their regular-season finale at New England.

Four other games in the final two weeks must also go the Dolphins' way. They need for the Bengals to lose their final two games, the Steelers to lose to Cleveland, and the Jets to lose once.

If all of those things happen, the Dolphins would finish tied with the Bengals and Steelers at 8-8 and would win the tiebreaker.

Running back Reggie Bush was among those fuzzy on the details. When they were outlined to him, he shook his head.

``That's too much remembering,'' he said. ``I'm just worried about what we can control.''

He offered a slight twist on football's favorite cliche.

``We're just trying to take these next two games one game at a time,'' Bush said.

First-year coach Joe Philbin hasn't talked about the playoffs all season, and he said it's not a point of emphasis this week.

``The emphasis is a division opponent coming into our home stadium - a team that we haven't beaten yet,'' Philbin said. ``If you want to be a consistently good football team in the National Football League, you've got to win your home games and you've got to win your division games. So that's the real emphasis this week.''

Playoffs haven't been talked about much at the Dolphins' complex for the past decade. They've reached the postseason only once during that span.

A week ago, when the Dolphins had won just one game since Halloween, it was understandable for Tannehill to declare his team a non-contender.

``We realize we're out of the playoff race,'' he said.

Tannehill was quickly corrected by the coaching staff. Then the Dolphins beat Jacksonville, while two other teams contending for the final wild-card berth lost.

Tannehill made certain his assessment of the Dolphins' playoffs chances this week was more mathematically precise.

``We still have something to play for at this point, even if it may be realistically small,'' he said. ``We just have to go out and take care of what we can, and that's winning Sunday.''

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Smith scores 17 to help No. 6 Maryland beat Fairfield 74-55

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Smith scores 17 to help No. 6 Maryland beat Fairfield 74-55

Jalen Smith had 17 points and eight rebounds, and No. 6 Maryland used depth and balance to wear down Fairfield in a 74-55 victory Tuesday might.

The Terrapins (4-0) took the lead for good at 9-8, increased the margin to 14 at halftime and cruised to the finish.

Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 12 points to pass James Gist and move into the Top 20 on Maryland's career scoring list with 1,424.

Sophomore Ricky Lindo Jr. contributed a career-high 13 points, and Eric Ayala also scored 13.

Landon Taliaferro scored 15 for the Stags (1-4). Twelve of Fairfield's 18 baskets were from beyond the arc.

Coming off an overtime loss to Loyola Maryland in which they committed 21 turnovers, the Stags had 16 against the Terrapins -- at least one by nine different players.

Fairfield cut a 15-point deficit to 55-46 before baskets by Cowan and Smith began a 12-3 spurt that made it 67-49 with 6:12 left. The highlight of the run was a resounding dunk by Smith off an alley-oop pass from Hakim Hart following a Fairfield turnover.

The Stags made only one field goal over the final 8 minutes.

Nine players scored in the first half for Maryland, and the Terrapins overcame an early deficit to take a 41-27 lead at the break.

Fairfield went 7 for 11 from beyond the arc before halftime, but committed 10 turnovers and was whistled for 12 fouls.

Maryland led 13-12 before a 3-pointer by Ayala and a dunk off a steal by Darryl Morsell sparked a 12-2 run that put the Terrapins up by 11.

Despite getting off to another slow start, the Terrapins completed the opening 20 minutes with their largest halftime lead of the season.

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Diakite, No. 7 Virginia hold off Vermont, 61-55

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Diakite, No. 7 Virginia hold off Vermont, 61-55

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Mamadi Diakite scored 19 points and No. 7 Virginia withstood a 3-point shooting display by Anthony Lamb and beat Vermont 61-55 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (4-0) trailed before Diakite's basket gave them a 50-49 lead with 5:12 left and sparked a 9-0 run. Jay Huff scored twice in the spurt and Braxton Key hit a 3-pointer as Virginia held the Catamounts scoreless, and forced four turnovers, in a nearly four-minute span.

Lamb scored 30 for Vermont (4-1), including 25 in the second half, to nearly match the point total of the Cavaliers' first two opponents of the season, who each managed just 34 points. Stef Smith added 11 points, but Virginia turned Vermont's 13 turnovers into 20 points.

Kihei Clark scored 15 points and Key had 14 points for Virginia.

Virginia led 24-18 at halftime, but Vermont used a 10-2 run to start the half to take its first lead since the early going. Lamb had seven points in the run, including the last five, and tacked on his team's next 12 points with four 3-pointers as the score was tied five times.

BIG PICTURE

Vermont: The Catamounts hang their hat on defense, too, and came into the game with a 107-9 record since the 2011-12 season when holding their opponents to 60 points or fewer

Virginia: The Cavaliers' defensive excellence has been essential early in the season as they still are struggling to find an offensive rhythm. Highly regarded freshman guard Casey Morsell came into the game having made just 2 of 21 field goal attempts and was 1 for 6. Virginia has made 21 3-pointers in its first four games and allowed 31, including 12 by the Catamounts in 33 attempts.

UP NEXT

The Catamounts face Central Connecticut State on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

The Cavaliers face Massachusetts on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

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