Tylor Perry exceeding

North Texas guard Tylor Perry (5) reaches out to cut off a passing lane as Rice guard Terrance McBride looks for an opening at the Super Pit during the Mean Green’s win over the Owls earlier this season.

North Texas has gotten off to a terrific start in Grant McCasland’s fifth season despite a tough loss to fellow Conference USA power UAB on Thursday night.

The Mean Green have beaten Wichita State on the road and Drake in a neutral site game on their way to an 8-4 start. UNT was picked to finish sixth in Conference USA, largely because it lost a host of key players, including conference tournament MVP Javion Hamlet.

A host of players have stepped in to help the Mean Green continue their winning ways as they look to win a C-USA title for the third straight season.

Here’s a look at three who have exceeded expectations.

1. Tylor Perry, guard

Perry was highly regarded when he arrived at UNT after leading Coffeyville Community College to the NJCAA national title.

Perry was the MVP of the national tournament but was somewhat overlooked in recruiting because he is a 5-foot-11 combo guard who isn’t the most athletic player out there.

Perry has done more than UNT could have hoped for while averaging a team-high 14.3 points per game.

2. Rubin Jones, point guard

Jones moved into UNT’s starting lineup in place of Hamlet and has handled the challenge well throughout the early stages of the season.

Jones is averaging 8.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He also ranks third among UNT players with 27 assists.

The Houston native averaged 6.2 points per game last season. The biggest jump Jones has made from his freshman season is in the leadership and stability he has provided.

UNT hoped he would make that leap heading into the season and has seen him come through.

3. Abou Ousmane, forward

UNT lost the anchor of its team that beat Purdue in the NCAA tournament last season when Zachary Simmons turned pro and began a career overseas.

UNT turned to Ousmane to fill that void and has seen him do just that.

Ousmane ranks second among UNT players with an average of 5.1 rebounds per game and is also averaging 8.8 points per game.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore averaged just 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game last season. He has quickly grown as a player and leads UNT with 12 blocks.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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