By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) –Defending champion Connecticut will face St. John’s in the ninth annual Maggie Dixon Classic on Jan. 4.
The Huskies, who went 40-0 last season en route to a record ninth national title, will be making their fourth appearance in the game at Madison Square Garden. The event honors former Army coach Maggie Dixon, who died in 2006.
UConn has never lost in its three appearances and beat Ohio State in 2010 to tie the vaunted UCLA men’s basketball record 88-game winning streak. The Huskies went on to break it and win 90 consecutive contests.
Coach Geno Auriemma’s current team has won 46 straight and back-to-back national championships, led by The Associated Press player of the year Breanna Stewart.
The former conference opponents played every year before the Big East broke up last season and UConn joined the American Athletic Conference.
The Red Storm are coming off another NCAA tournament appearance. St. John’s beat USC before falling to Tennessee in the second round. Coach Joe Tartamella returns three starters.
Garden officials are working to find a second game; the previous eight classics have been a doubleheader.
The inaugural Maggie Dixon Classic was held at Army in 2006 –a men’s and women’s doubleheader. The Pittsburgh men, coached by Maggie’s brother Jamie, beat Western Michigan, and Ohio State routed Army. The last seven Classics have been played at Madison Square Garden.
Maggie Dixon died of arrhythmia, likely caused by an enlarged heart. Her death came three weeks after her first season as a head coach, when she led Army to its first NCAA berth.
The event also includes a health and heart expo.
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