And the sophomore, who starred at Price High, did just that, knocking down his first five shots and leading the Golden Bears with a game-high 19 points in a 75-49 romp over USC at Galen Center on Thursday.
The win, combined with Washington's 82-57 loss at Oregon, puts the Golden Bears into a first place tie with the Huskies. Cal defeated Washington, 69-66, in their lone regular season meeting.
Crabbe carried Cal early with his energy and stroke, hitting three long jump shots. That forced USC to put standout Maurice Jones on Crabbe, but he was able to simply post up the 5-foot-7 guard.
"After I knocked down my first shot, I was just like I'm going to keep shooting and see how the run does and it kept going in," Crabbe said. "I was surprised that they actually put him on me."
With his whole family and members of his church occupying a section to the left of press row, Crabbe made 8 of 12 shots, helping Cal to shoot 55.7 percent from the field in front of the windows looking onto the panorama of downtown skyscrapers.
"It's always fun to come back and play in front of my whole family," said Crabbe, who added four rebounds and four assists. "Usually it's just my mom and my dad, but for them all to be here, it's really exciting."
But it wasn't until forward Harper Kamp made his presence felt that Cal (19-6, 9-3 Pac-12) blew the game wide open.
After playing just seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, the senior forward exploded with 12 points to fuel an 18-7 drive that pushed the Cal lead to 17.
"We didn't play hard enough in the first half. I knew we were going to have a little bit of an issue, the obvious thing is you look at records and start to make assumptions. We weren't getting loose balls. We weren't attentive to rebounds we should have had," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said.
"It obviously helped to have Harper."
Kamp, who was 9 of 11 from the floor, now has 999 points in his college career.
His partner in the starting frontcourt, freshman David Kravish, was able to exploit an undersized and injury-riddled USC lineup for 18 rebounds, the most for any Cal player since Dec. 2009.
"There's got to be a little bit of a trade off for SC playing small. If we can't get a trade off somewhere along the line, then we've got problems. We should have been able to rebound the ball cleanly," Montgomery said.
"Without getting pushed around by a bunch of big guys, he should have rebounded the ball."
Jones scored a team-high 17 points for USC, which fell to 1-11 in conference play this season, 6-19 overall.
Cal will face UCLA on Saturday (1 p.m., Fox Sports Net), looking for its first season sweep of the Los Angeles schools since 1958-59.
"Whatever happens in that game, the rest of our season is in our hands," Kamp said. We have a chance to be up at the top and we have got to take advantage of that and play every game hard and with a lot of energy.
"We want to be on top when this thing is all said and done."